Tea Giving: Day 24 (1980 Aged Oolong)


“The world is full of magic things,
patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” 

― W.B. Yeats


Every year since 1980, the tea master who grew this has taken this Oolong out of storage and lightly roasted it. He then put it back into storage and waited for another 2 years or so before taking it out of his tea vault to roast it again in order to remove moisture. Since 1980! 38 years of tea roasting certainly validates the Keats quote above.

And this is one of the many reasons to love tea and the people who are dedicated to this kind of craftsmanship.

What were you doing in 1980? Were you even on the planet yet? To say this is rare is an understatement. Especially since tea making in Taiwan changed around the Mid-1980s. Prior to that tea was hand-rolled in canvas bags. This kind of processing created a tea that was not as tightly rolled as it is currently with the use of machines. Firing at the right temperature (often higher) was also key for this original kind of processing. The end result being a tea with a very thick and unique taste that is very different from any other teas you might have tried before. Notes of roasted chestnuts, stone fruit, baked bread, passionfruit, butter and whispers of cocoa are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s rich with divine depth of character.

Oolong tea in wooden spoon on a background of old vintage books. Menu, recipe
1980 Aged Oolong

This is clearly not a mainstream tea. And, it’s not an everyday cuppa. It’s an experience reserved for special occasion. We often joke that teas like this should only be shared with those who are truly worthy and to choose wisely.

This is only sold in 1 ounce amounts because of how little there is and because there is no more left of this particular lot on the planet being roasted by this tea maker for that particular year. Should you decide to secure some of this magic, you will not be disappointed – especially if you are roasted oolong lover.

Please enjoy this extremely RARE DISCOUNT of 25% OFF this extremely RARE 1980 AGED OOLONG on day 24 of our 25 Days of Tea Giving. Use Code TEAGIVING24 at checkout on the Pearl Fine Teas website.

Think of this discount like the Rare Christmas Comet that only shows up every 11 years. Perhaps you can watch the comet while sipping this 1980 Aged Oolong…?

Happy Sipping!

~The Chief Leaf







Tea Giving: Day 24 (1980 Aged Oolong)

Tea Giving: Day 19 (WuYi Dark Oolong)


If Daenerys Targaryen drank tea, it would be this one. 

Wuyi Dark Oolong, also known as “Northern Fujian Black Dragon Tea” doesn’t go as far back as Game of Thrones (298 AC/seventeen years after the end of Robert’s Rebellion) but is a more recent dating back to the Ming Dynasty (c. 1368 – 1644). This style of tea was originally referred to as Rock Tea (Yan Cha) – which described the terroir from where it grew (rocky soil).  The name Black Dragon referred to the long, dark, twisted leaves which were then pan-fired to stop oxidation and baked in the final stages of processing.

Wuyi Dark Oolongs are the polar opposite to spring/ greener oolongs such as Jade and BaoZhong style which is buttery and more floral in taste.

This tea is produced at a 100% organic tea garden near Fujian that has 36 rock peaks. Only teas grown within a 60 kilometer territory are considered authentic Wuyi Tea. Wuyi Dark Oolong, is a heavily oxidized style of oolong that yields a full bodied, rich mouth-feel tea that leaves a lasting impression. Notes of sweet baked apricot, caramel, and brown sugar shine through. It’s leaves a haunting end note that begs you for more. This is a powerful, dark, rich oolong you won’t soon forget.

For those of you that are familiar with this style of tea, you will rejoice knowing that today Day 19 of our 25 Days of Christmas can enjoy 25% OFF by using code TEAGIVING19 at checkout on the website.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, this is a great time to give this type of oolong a try. It pairs brilliantly with cheeses like blue, gorgonzola. Is divine with dim sum or even Chinese Take-out delivered to your door. Any salty, heavier meals are divine with a Dark Oolong.

So get ready for last and final Season 8 of Game of Thrones and have your Wuyi Black Dragon Tea by your side. (“The things I do for love.” – Jaimie Lanister)

Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf


Tea Giving: Day 19 (WuYi Dark Oolong)

Tea Giving: Day 10 (Bao Zhong)

Gong Fu Style of serving tea

Welcome to Taiwan.

Home to some our most favorite Oolong teas which most definitely includes Baozhong.

Pouchong or Baozhong in Mandarin, means “wrapped in paper” referring to an original older and unique processing style from the past when the tea was literally wrapped in paper during the drying process.

For Oolong lovers and TeaNerds reading this: Our Baozhong is oxidized at around 12% which is considered light oxidation and creates an end tea product that falls somewhere between green and oolong. It lacks the sharpness of some greens and is much more mild than other oolongs. It’s sweet, fresh, fruity, floral and buttery. It requires no sweeteners. In fact, adding any sugars would be almost down right sacrilegious and would ruin the complexity this tea has to offer.

Tea grown within Pinglin county in Northern Taiwan and processed in a specific style is considered the best quality of Pouchong – which is where ours is from.

gettyimages-155772597-170667a (1)
Wen Shan Bao Zhong

The leaves of Baozhong are large, twisty and dark green. For brewing, its similar to other greener oolongs in terms of water temperature (175°F) and time. This tea can handle multiple infusions. I’ve gotten up to seven!

High in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals it has wonderful health benefits. There is research that suggests the following:

Increased Heart Health

  • May improve your cardiovascular health and lower risk of heart disease
  • May help lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Rich in Quercetin which may help dilate the blood vessels

Dual Effect: Relaxing / Stimulating

  • Contains the amino acid L-theanine known to calm and relax the nervous system
  • Combined with caffeine it increases alertness without the jitters

Skin, Bones, Teeth

  • May keep your skin looking youthful and prevent signs of aging from antioxidants
  • Fluorine and calcium in tea may strengthen bones and prevent tooth decay

That makes for a pretty strong case for drinking tea daily and trying Baozhong specifically. If you are a lover of Oolongs or are intrigued to try it for the first time, please enjoy 25% OFF our Baozhong at checkout by using code TEAGIVING10 on the website. You won’t regret welcoming this tea into your life.

Happy Sipping! (Kuàilè de chuài yǐn)
~The Chief Leaf

Tea Giving: Day 10 (Bao Zhong)

Tea and Caffeine

Morning Peeps...

Its been a month since I blogged. Bad me. I’ve been focusing on new ventures that are coming up this fall. Like teaching a tea class at Open Kitchen and attending expos and events (more on that later). I have been loyal to my morning cup of Jade Oolong and Im about to cup a few more this afternoon. Yeah me!

I was sifting through some old emails and came across this interesting bit from my Peep over in England, Nigel Melican. He is an expert on many many tea related issues especially caffeine. So Id like to share with you what he said recently. A question was asked:

Q. “First, I was wondering which tea had the greatest caffeine content White,Green,or Black?…

A. “A 2007 study in Germany (Hilal & Engelhardt) looked at 30 Black teas, 2 sets of 30 Green teas & 30 White teas. This is the most comprehensive study I know. They found a range of caffeine:

Black tea 2.0 to 5.4% – average 3.5%

Green tea (1) 1.5 to 5.2% – average 3.4%

Green tea (2) 1.7 to 3.9% – average 2.9%

White tea 3.4 to 5.7% – average 4.9%

My conclusion from this is that to drink any particular color of tea for its low or high level is to fool yourself. Despite what many misguided (or unscrupulous) vendors may tell you, your black could be as low as 2.0% and your green as high as 5.2% – and even on average (if you could ever find an average tea) a black will be the same caffeine level as a green – from sample set 1 at least.

White tea scores higher on average than black or green, though a ‘high’ black or green could still beat a ‘low’ white.

Steeping practice will modify caffeine intake more than your choice of tea type. Halve the tea you use = 50% less caffeine in your cup. Treble steep your green or white teas and you will have significantly less caffeine per oz of water consumed than in a single steep of black.

Finally, don’t worry so much about caffeine in tea. Nature provided tea polyphenols to complex it – so you do not get the coffee jitters from tea – and the unique relaxing L-theanine to balance caffeine’s energizing effects. New research (in mice only, so far) points to caffeine having a protecting and reversing affect on Alzheimer dementia at a dose of 500mg per day – around 14 cups! That has to be an argument for increased tea drinking.

Analysis shows that the African cultivars are consistently high for caffeine content. Some can be up to 6% in parts of the year and the CTC manufactured types are the highest. Teas from Kenya and Rwanda are particularly good for combination of taste, high caffeine and high L-theanine (the stress busting amino acid unique to tea). In USA though it’s difficult to find these teas as straight origins. I suggest you seek out a supplier of Taylors Yorkshire Gold – their blend incorporates a lot of the best African teas – good and strong and my favorite for the morning wake up cuppa.

Q. “I know this has been addressed in the past, but once again….Which if any tea has the most caffine? I am a loose tea drinker, but also love my coffee. Coffee isnt agreeing with me anymore, but Ive gotta have that “buzz” in the morning to get me going. I have a job where I sit all day and look at a computer, and need to stay awake!…[I’d] appreciate anything you can advise me on.”

A.  “Analysis shows that the African cultivars are consistently high for caffeine content. Some can be up to 6% in parts of the year and the CTC manufactured types are the highest. Teas from Kenya and Rwanda are particularly good for combination of taste, high caffeine and high L-theanine (the stress busting amino acid unique to tea). In USA though it’s difficult to find these teas as straight origins. I suggest you seek out a supplier of Taylors Yorkshire Gold – their blend incorporates a lot of the best African teas – good and strong and my favorite for the morning wake up cuppa.”

There you have it. Thanks Nigel!

Happy Sipping!


Tea and Caffeine

Plucking Tea Leaves in Taiwan (Step #1)

Greetings, TeaPeeps. As many of you know I just spent the last 10 days in Taiwan on what was called a Oolong Tea Study Tour, sponsored by TTMA (Taiwan Tea Manufacturers Association). Quite frankly it was more a bootcamp than a tour – which was fabulous! It was an intense learning experience along with some time to purchase new teas for our 2009 collection.

Studying with Thomas Shu, Norman Shu, Jackson Huang and other notable Tea Masters was more than just a treat. It was the opportunity of a lifetime!

I’m still gathering my thoughts, going through hundreds of photos and video and will write and share in the days to come.

In the meantime, I thought it would be nice to share a bit of video of a woman plucking leaves for us to prepare Oriental Beauty (White Tip Oolong). This is STEP #1 in the tea making process. Have a look…

Plucking Tea Leaves in Taiwan (Step #1)

Seven Cups Tea House (Denver)

pam sipping tea

I visit Denver often. At least 3-4 times a year because most of my family lives out there. Each time I go, I try to have tea with my sister-in-law Roseanne and my nieces, Christy and Lauren. It’s always a good time. On this particular trip, I ended up having tea with my dear friend Pam who actually now lives in Boulder with her husband Tim. She made the trip to Denver to meet me at Seven Cups Tea House so that I could sample their stash. Pam and I have known each other for almost 10 years now having met randomly on Waikiki Beach during a surf lesson. In all the years I lived in Hawaii, I had never tried to surf, so when I went back for a months vacation, just a year after moving to Washington DC, I thought I should give it a try. Having failed miserably, I swam back to shore only to see Pam actually riding a wave. We’ve been friends ever since. Anyway…

7cups24Seven Cups Tea House resides in a quiet part of Denver on South Pearl Street. Coincidence? I think not. Asian culture values the word “pearl” as something elegant, of value, perfect and pure. Hence the name of our very own tea company: Pearl Fine Teas.

Upon entrance into the tea house, you are faced with jars of loose leaf tea to the right of the shop. The back area has tables for sitting, tasting and sharing an traditional Asian treat.

7cups32We met on a quiet Saturday morning and lined up the different teas that we (or rather I) wanted to sample. After reviewing the tea filled jars, I decide to try two teas I’ve never had, along with two that I am familiar with – treasures blend and an oolong. An Alishan to be exact. I had asked them if they had anything close to a “Milk Taste” oolong and they said the Alishan was the closest. To me it tasted nothing like a “Milk Taste” Oolong.

Pam had never really been to an Asian tea house, so she allowed me to lead the tasting. She was open to suggestion and it was so fun to pick and choose teas for us both to try.

7cups62We were the only two in there that morning so we had the full attention of the shop manager. We began the tasting with a Meng Ding Huang Ya (Yellow Buds) Yellow Tea 2007 which I found a bit too light for my liking, although I think Pam was partial to that one. After, we sipped a Mo Gan Huang Ya (Yellow tea) Yellow Tea (Organic) 2008 which again, a bit too light for my liking but the flavor was interesting. After, I moved to a Seven Treasure tea blend and the Alishan Tong Fang Mei Ren (Oriental Beauty) Taiwan Oolong 2007. You can see from the photo to the left that the liquor color of the Alishan (4th from the left) is quite light. We had multiple infusions of each tea and I remember thinking that I liked the 2nd infusions of almost all of them. I was also very interested in their 7 Treasures Blend. I’ve had something similar here in Washington at Ching Ching Cha, but their version is called 8 Treasures and quite frankly, its a fantastic. It’s one of the tastiest tea blends they offer. Each infusion gets sweeter and sweeter. I was expecting the same from the 7 Treasures, but alas, it was not.

7cups55In addition to the teas, we tried a few treats – most made with some sort of bean paste. They were “ok” but I thought that the flavor was lacking probably because they had just come out of the fridge. My expectation was that they would have been prepared that day and not quite so… cold.

Would I venture back to Seven Cups Tea House in Denver? Probably. Mostly because I feel strongly about supporting others in tea (that alone would be a reason to visit again) but also because I think there is an interesting selection. I would however eat before going.  Admittedly, my favorite spot so far in Denver is the Brown Palace. They do afternoon tea better than most!

7cups11So what does Seven Cups of Tea mean? Somehow I vaguely remember reading that seven cups of tea were important to ones over all health. I have no idea where I read this and when I did a google search, it was no where to be found. On the Seven Cups web site, it refers to a poem called:  ‘The Seven Cups of Tea’…

‘Seven Cups’ is named after a very famous ancient poem about tea. Poetry, history and legend all have an important role to play in Chinese tea culture, and the Seven Cups poem is one of the traditional verses that is still recited today. It was written by Lu Tong (798-835AD) during the years of the Tang dynasty, and the theory of seven cups of tea still bears Lu Tong’s name. It was written as a response to his friend Mong, a Tang court adviser, who had sent him a parcel of tea.

The first cup caresses my dry lips and throat.
The second shatters the walls of my lonely sadness.
The third searches the dry rivulets of my soul to find the stories of five thousand scrolls.
With the fourth the pain of life’s grievances evaporates through my pores.
The fifth relaxes my muscles and bones become light.
With the sixth I find the path that leads to the immortal ancestors.
Oh the seventh cup! Better not take it! If I had it the only feeling
Is the fresh wind blowing through my wings,
As I make my way to Penglai.
-Lu Tong, Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907)

Seven Cups Tea House (Denver)

Smith and Hawken, Pearl Fine Teas & Orchid Oolong

metro-ce-logoh3The Big News for today, November 4th is… well, who will be our next President. It’s pretty hard to trump that, but given that we are totally TeaCentric (and have already voted) we have some Big News of our own to share with our fellow TeaPeeps and followers:

I have been invited to speak and show at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show right here in Washington DC at the new Convention Center! We are selling our fabulous loose leaf tea along with some amazing tea ware.  Our booth is #910 (right across from Beer, Wine and Spirits) so if you live close, stop by and introduce yourself. I am a featured speaker on Tea on Sunday, November 9th from 12:30-1:00pm. Very exciting.

pearl_orchid1The even BIGGER NEWS is that Smith & Hawken has signed on to support us! They have asked us to create a holiday event exclusively for their Chevy Chase, MD store. The seminar is called: “Tea in the Garden: Understanding Orchids and Orchid Oolong Tea.” Pretty fabulous! They will also be present at our booth and are outfitting our space with orchids galore and furniture from the store which should be just fantastic. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to not only speak at the Metro Cooking & Entertaining Show, but to help with this exclusive holiday event for Smith & Hawken. Anyone that knows me can tell you that it is truly one of my favorite stores. What an opportunity!

Orchid Oolong Tea. The Garden. What could be better? Check out the press release that went out today.

If you are not familiar with Orchid Oolong, you may be missing out on a spectacular experience. Here is a brief description of the one we carry at Pearl Fine Teas:

orchid oolong
orchid oolong

High mountain green oolong from Taiwan which is shipped to Fujian Province China to be scented with fresh orchid flowers. Yulan, the type of orchid we use is a much larger flower and much more aromatic than a jasmine. The danger can be that the tea absorbs too much moisture or becomes over scented and the crucial balance between tea and orchid taste is lost. This year’s crop represents the zenith of the art of scenting.

How can you not be enticed?

Remember: Please Vote! (and sip tea, we did!). There’s still time!

Smith and Hawken, Pearl Fine Teas & Orchid Oolong

Worshiping Oolongs

I love oolong. I drink it morning, noon and night. I’m particularly fond of Oolongs from Taiwan. Could you call it an obsession? Hmm… probably. But there are worst thing, right? Today I’m blogging about a few people that I know who are just as mad about Oolong as I am.

Marilyn. My most beloved acupuncturist who has the warmest, most inviting treatment room in the city and is located in a favorite part of town: Cap Hill/Eastern Market. I’m always relaxed and in a good space after seeing her each week. She is a miracle worker and the results are profound. Those of us in advertising have the unfortunate dilemna of insomnia. Me included. Or rather it used to be me. Thanks to her tiny needles, I sleep just fine. One of the requests I get from her is: “Are you bringing Jade Oolong???” said in a very, well… “I need my oolong” kind of way. She goes through it fast. I’m happy to supply.

high mountain dong ding

Chandler. No, not the guy from Friends. The guy who comes down to talk to me at the Market on Wednesdays. Chandler walked up to me one day and said with excitement, “You have a 2nd flush Darjeeling???” My reply was, “Yeees. Do you know what a 2nd flush is?” He knew quite a bit about it. He bought Darjeeling and we got tea-chit-chatting and I mentioned Oolongs. His eyes sort of lit up when I shared with him that we had a Jade Oolong and a High Mountain Dong Ding. Immediately, he wanted the Dong Ding. I told him that I was taking it off the site for selfish reasons and that I wasn’t sure I wanted to sell anymore. I won’t say he begged, but I was convinced to part with 3 or 4 ounces. It’s now listed on the site as limited quantity. Which it is. This past week he came by to visit again and leaped at the Jade Oolong. I’ve no doubt he will love it. Chandler qualifies as a TeaPeep. We’re happy to have him as a customer. Thanks Chandler!

Teaescapade. Im proud to say we have a fan in teaescapade. Nikki is a tea enthusiast who blogs about tea, does reveiws and really stays connected with many people in the tea industry through her blog. We sent Nikki some samples of our teas to try and on October 5, 2008, she reviewed our Jade Oolong. Check it out and her blog too. She does very comprehensive reviews of teas. Thanks teaescapade!

So, rather than keep blogging Im headed down stairs from some Yellow Gold Oolong (Huang Jin Gui) but that’s another story.

Worshiping Oolongs

Milk Taste Oolong

Have you ever tried “Milk Taste” Oolong? If not I think you are missing out on one of the most delightful, flavorful and special teas produced.

Anyone that knows me understands my passion for tea and my absolute crazy love for Oolongs, especially Formosa Oolong. But what they dont know is my growing obsession for Milk Taste Oolong. Here’s the story…

I first tried this lovely tea while cruising the Caribbean back in February 08. A group of us embarked on what I now call the “Tea Barge to Nowhere.” The premise was to gather tea peeps and teach them about blending techniques over 5 days while visiting Mexico and Belize.  The featured guest originally planned to appear was supposed to be none other than Bill Waddington of Tea Source. I promptly signed up. The cruise was positioned to us as “the only place to learn about tea blending” and as a marketer I take my hat off to the woman who organized the event for her “interesting” marketing technique to get people on board. (More on that later in another blog.)

Bill wasnt able to make it so he sent one of his top managers: Lisa. She was lovely and knowledgeable about tea and brought some interesting samples. One of which was called Milk Taste Oolong. As soon as I inspected and smelled the dry leaf I knew I had to sample. This tea did not disappoint. I was pleasantly surprised at how creamy and butter the flavor was and how it was silky on my tongue. I quickly approached Lisa and asked her for a few samples to take back with me. She was unable to provide any which had me chomping at the bit to locate a source. Which I did. Im happy to say we will be adding Milk Taste Oolong to our product line by Mid-October.

Milk Taste Oolong - Dry Leaf
Milk Taste Oolong - Dry Leaf

Milk Oolong Tea or “Milk Taste” Oolong has tightly rolled leaves that range in color from a lovely bright light yellow-green to a somewhat darker green. After infusion the wet leaf was large and consisted of two leaves and a bud. The liquor yielded a light yellowish liquid with milky sweet aroma that is unrivaled. Its smooth, buttery taste with lingering sweetness is delightful. I wish there were a way to upload smell and flavor.

Infused leaf and liquor
Infused leaf and liquor

While at the World Tea Expo in May, I asked many vendors about how this tea produces such a creamy taste. Many were hush-hush as if it was an ancient chinese secret. From what I have gathered, this tea is produced by a very special hand process from Taiwan. Tea leaves are plucked at a specific times of the year with specific temperature, altitude, and soil conditions to get the milky silky texture. Milk is used during the process.

I highly recommend Oolong teas and if you are a fan and haven’t tried this special tea, I encourage all of you to experience this truely wonderful tea.

Milk Taste Oolong