Cup of Tea and a Blog

Welcome to my spot for musing about all things tea. Here you'll read reviews of quality teas, click through comments on tea rooms and shops I've visited, and see photos of leaves and cups. You’ll also find things I might talk about over a cup of tea, like philosophy, literature, current events, or fun ways to pass the time.

Location: Pacific Northwest, United States

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13 September 2005

Tasting Notes: Teas from Hou de Fine

One of the boxes of tea that arrived on my birthday was from Hou De Fine Asian Art. In addition to the teas I had ordered, some very nice samples were tucked inside. They even included a slice of soap made from soapberry oil (and an actual soapberry!). Kudos to the careful shipping on their part (not all vendors are as good with packaging). The teas are sealed in airtight bags, then packed in thin cardboard to better protect them. The leaves all are beautiful, in good condition, and obviously well stored. Labels on the teas include a brief description, which I always appreciate.

As always, Guang is helpful and friendly in email exchanges. I have also learned much from Guang’s posts to Teamail, and from the extensive information you can find on the Hou de Fine web site. Tea lovers out there should definitely explore the site – videos, a newsletter, photos, beautiful antiques, and excellent information on puerh. I think you’ll get a sense of the care and pride that is taken with their tea.

So far, I’ve tasted three of the teas in my box from Hou de Fine. All three were excellent, but the one that blew my socks off was the Li-Shan.

2005 Spring Yunnan "Jin-Si" Golden Tips: good and solid. Earthy, and textured. This is a quality tea that is decently priced.

Not as sweet or with as many cocoa notes as some, but there’s a nice peppery bite to the tea. I need to try this again and will post more extensive notes in an upcoming golden yunnan comparison (have a few more to review now, as I continue my quest for the perfect cocoa-pepper taste).

2005 Spring “Green-Leaf Red-Rim” Formosa Hand-Harvested Oolong: I read the description of this tea earlier in the year, and it’s been bookmarked in my “tea want list” since then.

The leaves are beautiful, unfurling to show off the the leaf in its entirety, and they cast a reddish tint to the liquid. Because of this, the tea is more amber than green.

I quite enjoyed this tea. It is intricate, smooth, and just a bit sweet. I sniffed the aroma cup (is that the correct term?) and found a deep sweetness with just a touch of roasting. As the tea cools, the floral taste strengthens. The smooth quality of the tea coats the tongue and throat, and there is just a hit of citrus/lime in the aftertaste.

2005 Spring Li-Shan “Ma-Le-Pa” Tribe Premium Oolong: This was included as a sample in a recent order, and my taste buds are deeply grateful.

The color is a beautiful gold that glows in the sunlight. The aroma is not the sugary sweet smell (which I think is the natural plant sugars coming to the forefront when they’re roasted). Instead, there is a natural, lighter, barely-there sweetness, dominated by a milky texture that coats the tongue. I want to compare this to butterscotch, but it’s not sweet enough for that. More sweet notes do come through with the second steep.

For some reason I kept finding myself slurping this tea. That’s right – no dainty sipping this time around. I’m sure this has something to do with positioning the tea on the tongue; perhaps the tea wants to be shoved to the far backsides of the mouth? Definitely this is a "back of the tongue and into the throat" tea, which means the aroma goes up into the nose quite nicely as its sipped. The slurping might also be my wanting to fizz it up a bit, to create more oxygen against the tea in the mouth, or to let the fragrance move into my nose. (or, maybe I was just being a pig and guzzling the wonderful liquid) :)

The flavor of this tea is very comforting to me. It is sweet but not too sweet, with just a hint of green. The floral element comes through more as I sip, but mostly I note the soft silk that is left coating my throat. Quite intriguing. The tea held up well through multiple steepings. Even the third and fourth steep had the buttery coating effect.

Durable, tasty, with a lingering aftertaste. I’ll remember this tea.


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