There's a new tea company on the block. I was contacted a short time ago by a representative of Aura Teas (aurateas.com.) who offered some samples and asked if I would review them. Since on the one hand I never turn down an opportunity to try new teas and on the other hand I seldom turn down a review, I quickly accepted the offer.
The representative was very informative about exactly which teas she'd be sending, and even linked me to pictures and other information on the teas. I learned something aside from getting to try the new offerings of a new company, which is always a plus for someone like me.
I'll start the review by explaining which teas I received, and then posting an evaluation of them one-by-one. I'll then address some other issues which merit a mention.
The first and perhaps most interesting of the teas is a "Formosa Natural Wuhe Honey Black Tea." The tea has a very pleasant flavour, with a lovely subtle sweetness to it. It's probably got one of the nicer flavors I've tasted in a black. I was very pleased. It produces a great colour in the cup, with no clouding, and retains it's unique flavor both hot and cold. It's also very easy to brew, with no real specific instruction required. The tin contains nice whole, non-broken dried leaves with a nice colour, texture and odour.
What is most interesting about this tea is how it is created. It is grown in Wuhe, Hualien, Taiwan (which, by the way, is a beautiful city) without pesticides or other harsh chemicals. It's probably the closest to organic that a traditionally grown tea gets these days. The reason that it is grown without pesticides is very important - the sweetness of the tea actually comes from the leaves being bitten by a certain insect that favors the tea plant. Before harvest (which always occurs in the summer for this type, as the tea bugs only come in the summer), the leaves are left in the garden until the tea bugs do what tea bugs do best. After this, they are then fermented into what we know as a black tea.
I would recommend this tea, it being both unique and of a particularly high quality.
The second of the teas is "Formosa Pinglin Baihao Oolong Choice Grade." This tea is of a similar quality to the black I've just mentioned, and shares many of the same characteristics. This tea is also (and perhaps more commonly) known as "Oriental Beauty" or Formosa Imperial. This tea also has a subtle sweetness to it, which is imparted in the same way as in the case of the Honey Black - via Tea Bug! I sometimes have strange thoughts along these lines, but I tend to support safe natural product production, and shun pesticides when possible. This type of insect can't harm the tea - it only adds that subtle sweet honey-type flavor.
Being an oolong, it has a less tannic flavor than the black, and also seems to be more complex and contain more flavor elements. The natural sweetness comes out in this one somewhat more than in the Honey Black. This tea also has a very nice color in the cup with no cloudiness. The flavor, however, changes slightly when it is cool versus when it is hot, in the sense that the cooled version seemed to have a slightly more prominent nutty note.
The third and final sample I was sent is called Formosa Alishan Jinxuan Oolong. It is also popularly known as Golden Lilly Oolong. This is a newer tea, having been developed in the 1990's. This is one of the half-ball oolong teas, and should be brewed at just under boiling. This tea is very different from the first two, and is somewhat more expensive. Processed in the Dongding Oolong style, it is a very lightly fermented oolong, and has some very intense characteristics. The tea starts with a somewhat floral aroma, and is very smooth throughout the entire cup. It finishes smoothly with a creamy flavor. The color of the brewed tea is much lighter, and has a significantly different flavor than the first two, although it still maintains Aura's high quality standards.
All of these teas are very excellent and highly recommended. Another point of mention for Aura Teas is the packaging - The tea comes packaged in nice aesthetically pleasing round tins, which clearly detail the time and temperature of brewing, some interesting information about the tea, and the specific amount of tea recommended for each cup. The tin labels are also very aesthetically pleasing, containing a very nice blend of colors and good designs.
The company is also VERY supportive. Great to answer questions and concerns very quickly and professionally, and in a friendly manner. I'd recommend this company strongly, and I hope you'll all at least consider giving them a visit - they really are a very nice new company.
Over and out,
Relznuk Zero Relznuk
Saturday, November 03, 2007