Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In Search of the Golden Ibis

Greetings readers,

It's been only a week since my last posting, and I am already feeling
ambitious once more. Today, I have another review for you, from a
company I'm fairly sure you haven't heard of until today.

Recently, a representative of Golden Ibis Tea contacted me, asking if
I would be willing to review some samples for him. I did, of course,
gladly accept. But before I proceed to make specific mention of a few
of the teas that were sent, i want to take a moment to say a few
things about this new tea company. Since they are new to the tea
world, very little information is available about them, so I decided I
would try to help them ot by spreading some info about their company

Golden Ibis puts great attention into where they purchase their teas
from, and they buy teas made in a time-honored tea producing
tradition. This, to me, seems admirable. They also have an
interesting philosophy on tea, where they believe that tea should be
made in the most authentic way possible, but also believe that tea
should be attainable (although not too attainable.) This can provide
an interesting balance between the most expensive of teas, made
authentically, in a time honored tradition from a single estate, and a
more attainable tea that is still made with authentic, high quality
standards, but also is cheap enough to be affordable.

We will see if the samples they sent hold up to the high standards of
excellence that they seem to be proposing.

Also, since Golden Ibis is so new to the world of tea, they haven't
had enough time to figure out packaging, so I will not be discussing
that aspect. For this review, I will stray outside of my norm, and
eveluate them based only upon the tea samples themselves.

The first sample I will be reviewing is a Phoenix Oolong tea. I am
very particular about oolongs, but this one seems to be up to the
task. When I opened up the foil packet, the smell is the first thing
that hit me with this blend - it has that characteristic nutty sort of
scent that all good oolongs tend to have. The dry appearnace of this
tea was also perfect - mostly whole, complete leaves, with only a few
broken up parts.

This tea was also a pleasure brewed. It imparted a decent cup
clarity, and had that nice light amber color that a good oolong should
have. As far as flavor goes, I can tell that great effort was put
into all aspects of this tea's processing, as it retained the
characteristic nutty flavor of an oolong, while having very little of
the astringent properties common to improperly produced oolongs. This
was a very clean, smooth tasting brew that imparted the best
characteristics of an oolong.

While it is not the best oolong I have ever tasted, it was pretty
good, and maintains that delicate balance between availability and
quality which is so important to this particular tea company.

The second of the samples that they sent was a Long Jing green tea.
As far as straight green teas go, this is actually one of the better
ones I have been given the opportunity to sample. It was particularly
good at maintaining that mild vegetal flavor that quality greens
always hold on to. However, this blend did posess a bit more
astringent than I like, which leads me to believe that it might have
been rushed a bit in it's processing, or may have been harvested a bit
too late. Other than the slight bitterness problem, this is an
excellent brew, having a brilliant cup clarity, a perfect cup
coloration, and an excellent assortment of flavor notes, from that
stereotypical vegetal flavor to a very slight nuttiness, to a very
slight fruity flavor.

I would highly recommend this brew as one of the better straight
greens I have tried.

And the third sample I was sent by this company is an apricot white
tea, which I won's spend much time discussing, other than to say that
it is an exceptional white, and to say that the amount of apricot was
expert - just enough to add some character, while not distracting from
the delicate flavor of the white tea it is based on.

Overall, I would say that these samples are above average for such a
new tea company, but could still use a little bit of improvement. I
suspect that many of the improvements in suppliers, etc, are alredy
being made. Since this is such a new company, these slight
shortcomings are very forgivable.

I would recommend these teas to most people, although I would caution
the more developed drinkers out there that these blends won;t really
compare to their more expensive counterparts available from other tea
companies. These teas do represent an excellent compromise between
expense and quality, however, which seems to have been the goal.

Thanks for reading. I hope you will all give this new tea company a
try - they really deserve to be getting some attention, as they are
doing quite well for being so new to the world of retail tea.

Over and out,