O5 Rare Tea + Kombucha Bar’s Semi-Wild Flight | Tea Review

by Tea in Spoons

Tea received at a discount for review

O5Tea Semi-Wild Flight Spoons

I always enjoy tasting a flight of teas and learning more about each unique tea and the differences between them.  So, when I was at O5 Rare Tea + Kombucha Bar in Vancouver, Canada, I knew I had to pick up this set along with the Japanese one from last week!

A flight of tea is when a few teas (normally 3 or more) are tasted together that compliment or contrast (ie, the same type of tea but a different year or the same farmer but different processing methods, etc.). With this set, all the teas are semi-wild and from the same farmer but use different processing methods. I find it rare to see flights that focus on this, so I was really excited to try the teas!

O5 Tea included a short paragraph about the growers:

“Wen Xing Zhou and his wife Zhan Zi Mei live in a remote village with no road access where they harvest leaves from semi-wild bushes that are 70-80 years old. The village lies high in the mountains, and the altitudes and cool weather produce a very small but highly prized yield of tea leaves each year. Despite approaching his eightieth year, Mr Wen insists on harvesting and processing all his teas by hand. The resulting teas are truly unique and some of the best we have ever tasted.”

For these teas, I steeped at a lower temperature and gradually raised the temperature with longer infusion times. I also used a gaiwan since that was one of the recommended vessels. With a quick snapshot of the farmers and how I brewed the teas, let’s go!


O5 Rare Tea + Kombucha Bar: Semi-Wild Long Jing

O5Teas Long Jing dry dish

Description: “Pine Nuts | Fresh cut grass | Crisp Mouth feel”

Review: Long Jing, also known as Dragon Well, is always a stunning tea to look at because of the nice flat shape of the leaves caused by pan-frying. This one was no exception; the leaves were perfectly flat and olive and dark green with some buds that were still hairy. The dry leaves had a rich earthy and grassy smell which became more toasted after steeping.

O5Teas Long Jing wet dish

For the first two infusions, the liquor was a clear light yellow with some mild astringency and grassiness. During the third and four steeps, with a higher temperature, there was still a grassy flavour but more bitterness came through. During the fifth, and last infusion, the flavour became nuttier but there were less grassy notes. The flavour was pretty weak at that point, so I stopped. I wish that I had been able to taste the nuttiness in earlier infusions (3/5 rating).


O5 Rare Tea + Kombucha Bar: Semi-Wild Mao Feng

O5Teas Mao Feng dry dish

Description: “Experimental Collection | Limited Supply”

Review: When I first opened the package and saw the leaves, I was surprised because I normally expect Mao Feng to be a straighter tea, but these ones were twisted and dark green with some white tips and fuzz. The twisted nature of the tea might be because these teas are processed by hand. The dry leaves almost smelled spicey and like a forest, and then they became more toasted and warm during the infusions.

The first infusion wasn’t what I expected, and it almost had a minty/herbal flavour. However, that was soon replaced with more earthy grassy notes. It took 3 infusions before the leaves fully unfurled. I raised the temperature on the 4th infusion, and the liquor was smooth and had a nice rounded flavour.


To play around with the tea some more, I continued to increase the temperature. While there was more grassy flavour, and it also carried a bit of astringency if left for too long. During the 6th infusion is when the flavour really developed and it became mustier and forest-like and the colour of the liquor changed from a light yellow to a more hay colour. However, after this infusion, the leaves became pretty spent, and the following infusions were weak.

In total, I steeped this one for 8 infusions, with the 8th one being quite light in flavour. This one was able to endure more infusions, which I enjoyed because it allowed me to play around with steeping temperature and time (3.5/5 rating).


O5 Rare Tea + Kombucha Bar Semi-Wild Zisun

O5Teas Zisun dry dish

Description: Experimental Collection | Limited Supply”

Review: I have never come across Zisun cultivar before, but it translates into ‘purple bamboo’. It had a nice fresh grassy smell which was similar after steeping. The dry leaves were long and narrow and I could clearly see the bud and leaves, which were still fuzzy.

O5Teas Zisun wet dish

What I didn’t expect was that while the first steep was very light in flavour, it started off grassy but ended sweet. This was similar in the next infusion. During the third infusion, the leaves finally opened and the flavours became more prevalent. In the 5th infusion, the toasted flavours came through and there was some astringency that lasted in the mouth. I really enjoyed how the flavours went from sweet and grassy to nutty (4/5 rating).


Final Thoughts

Like I mentioned at the start, I  really enjoy tasting flights. I don’t think I have (knowingly) tried many semi-wild teas from China, so this was a new experience for me! Of all the teas, I enjoyed the Semi-Wild Zisun the most.

Check out my post from last week where I try O5Tea’s Japan Flight!

Have you ever tried semi-wild teas before?


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Jean | DelightfulRepast.com August 21, 2018 - 9:23 am

Connie, I came over from your comment on Nicole Martin’s blog. When I see the word “tea” in a blog name, I can’t resist! This is the first I’ve ever heard of semi-wild teas. Very interesting. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog. You and I are on the same posting schedule, Thursdays.


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Tea in Spoons is where I share my love of teas through tea reviews, tea travel, tea tips, information, and more. New tea adventure every Thursday!