Teawala’s High Mountain, Yunnan Black, Ceylon Highlands | Tea Review

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Tea received as a gift

Teawala_High_Mountain_spoon

I came across Mona’s Instagram account when I saw her carefully hand drawn tea labels and her tea travels. We started chatting and soon after she sweetly offered to send me some teas to try!

When Mona originally sent me teas, she had just wanted to share the teas. However, because of my backlog of tea, I didn’t get around to trying them. So, when I found out she was starting her own tea company, I knew I wanted to support her and spotlight her teas.

Teawala_teas

One thing I love (and am envious) about Mona is that she actually goes to the countries and visits farms where she sources her teas from to learn about the tea and sees the process through from bush to cup. I have waxed poetic about this in other posts, but it is very important to me that tea farms get spotlighted, and she does just that. She describes her brand as: “Founded by a Hong Kong-born tea enthusiast in 2019, Teawala is dedicated to sourcing authentic, loose leaf teas direct from the farm.”

Teawala_postcards

Mona sweetly sent me 5 teas/herb teas: 1 from China, 2 from Taiwan, and 2 from Sri Lanka. Each time she sent me teas, it came with a postcard discussing the tea and also a gift from that country or area. For this review, I decided to pick my top three teas (one from each country) to highlight.

Teawala_items

Mona’s brand, Teawala, just launched and the new website is jam-packed with information about each tea and the farmers. Depending on the tea, Mona also provides various ways to steep them ranging from using a gaiwan to cold brewing. I generally like using one method to drink all the teas, so I opted for western brewing because all 3 teas offered those recommendations.

Teawala_steepingNow that I’ve outlined some background information about the brand, this post will cover 1 oolong (from Taiwan) and two black teas (China and Sri Lanka). Let’s go!

 

High Mountain

Teawala_High_Mountain_spoon

Description: “Taste the vegetal, roasted notes that are typical of a green tea, but the depth of an Oolong and a clean finish that is characteristically high mountain.”

Instructions: Western Brew (Mug / Teapot): 5g | 350ml | 95°C | 2 min | + 1 min for additional brews | Can steep ~ 3 times

Review: I haven’t had high mountain oolong in some time, the last time was most likely in Taiwan (a year ago). So, when Mona sent this to me, I will admit that I was saving it for a rainy day. This tea was harvested in Alishan at the elevation of 1350m in November 2018 and was charcoal baked.

The tightly rolled tea had a beautiful emerald colour and fresh grassy smell. After steeping, the leaves slowly unfurled, and at the end, they were forest green, large and full with a sweet grassy smell. The liquor started off pale yellow with some slight cloudiness, but over the infusions, the liquor became clear and became into a brighter yellow. The smell was a mix between grassy and roasted.

Teawala_High_Mountain_wet_dish

Steep 1 – The first infusion had a very light grassy and vegetal note. It was a very clean taste that had a faintly sweet aftertaste that lingered.

Steep 2 – During this infusion, the liquor was clear and a brighter pale yellow. The flavours were stronger with some vegetal and roasted notes interwoven together. The aftertaste was grassy and sweet.

Steep 3 – The flavour started to wane but the liquor did end off with nice grassy and roasted notes.

Overall, I really enjoyed how this tea tasted. It was a very nice clean flavour. Each flavour had time to shine – grassy, vegetal, roasted. The tea was very enjoyable and I think it was very balanced. It also tasted nice and cool as well (4.5/5 rating).

  • Type: Oolong tea
  • Origin: Taiwan (Alishan)
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Ingredients: Oolong tea
  • Company: Teawala

 

Yunnan Black

Teawala_Yunnan_Black_spoon

Description: “With rich notes of dark chocolate and dried fig, this tea brews a deep, cherry red liquor and can be brewed up to 8* times in one sitting. As you continue brewing, you’ll notice the different layers emerging – spice, cacao beans, raisins.” *if using gaiwan

Instructions: Western Brew (Mug / Teapot): 5g | 350ml | 95°C | 1 min | + 20 secs for additional brews | Can steep ~ 4 times

Teawala_Yunnan_Black_wrapping

Review: I always enjoy a black tea from Yunnan, so when Mona sent this to me, I kept it aside to savour it. The wrapping depicts the Bulang people who are an ethnic minority but have been “been practising their age-old puer-making traditions for thousands of years.”

What is interesting about this cake is that the tea is handpicked from wild tea trees (50 to 100 years) and during processing, the leaves are sun-dried, rather than being put through the more conventional process of being oven dried. This is known as Shaihong. The cake was also aged for a year and was harvested in October 2017.

Teawala_Yunnan_Black_cake

The cake is very pretty with its twisted leaves and marbling of dark and lighter leaves. The dry leaves did not have a strong smell. However, after infusion, the large dark chocolate brown leaves had an earthy sweetness to them. The liquor was a clear amber colour. It also smelled sweet with some cocoa and fruity notes.

Teawala_Yunnan_Black_wet_dish

Steep 1 – The liquor was sweet, fruity and it reminded me of dried fruit. There were some earthy undertones and sweetness. The liquor had a bit of mushroom aftertaste.

Steep 2 – After an additional 20 seconds, the liquor was more earthy with some lingering sweetness. The liquor was smooth going down, but it did leave the back of the mouth feeling dry. Since I was using small cups, I found that when I got to the bottom of the cup, there was a residual mushroom aroma.

Steep 3 – The dominant flavours are now the earthy sweetness. It even has a hint of caramel. The mushroom taste is more subdued.

Steep 4 – The flavours were very mild at the start of the sip and were very fruity. However, right at tailend, there was a strong burst of damp earthiness.

This is rather different than some of the black teas I have tried from Yunnan, which tended to have a more malty taste. I found that this tea had more fruity, earthy sweetness. I did like the range of flavours in this one, and I think that it is a nice mellow tea with an interesting blend of flavours (4/5 rating).

  • Type: Black tea
  • Origin: China (Yunnan)
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Ingredients: Black tea
  • Company: Teawala

 

Ceylon Highlands

Teawala_Ceylon_Black_spoon

Description: “The result is a robust, flavorful, yet smooth black tea with notes of malt and pine wood. For those who enjoy dark, malty beers – this is the one for you!”

Instructions: Western Brew (Mug / Teapot): 3g (1 Tbsp) | 350ml | 95°C | 3 min | + 1 min for additional brews | Can steep ~ 3 times

Review: Based on the website, this is a hand-picked tea that is rolled in small batches that uses a custom mini-roller which only processes up to 15kg per batch. The leaves are in small relatively unified pieces that looked like chocolate shavings. After steeping, the leaves quickly unfurl and are a reddish brown with a sweet earthy smell. The liquor is a bright mull red colour with an earthy and roasted undertone.

Teawala_Ceylon_Black_wet_dish

Steep 1 –  The liquor started earthy and sweet and it was followed by some briskness at the tail end of the sip. There was a mild bitterness that was left on the tongue.  

Steep 2 – The earthy notes are replaced with more of a sweeter maltiness. However, I found that there was a fair bit of astringency at the tail end of the sip.

Steep 3 – The liquor has lost some of its redness and has become more of a brown colour. The briskness has also disappeared and the liquor now leans more toward earthiness

I found when this tea was hot, the briskness and astringency were much more pronounced. However, letting it cool helped mitigate that. I also think I would test steeping this less, based on my own preferences, or consider this for a cold brew. If anyone likes a strong black tea or breakfast blends, this would be the one (3/5 rating).

  • Type: Black tea
  • Origin: Sri Lanka (Uva highlands)
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Ingredients: Black tea
  • Other: Organic
  • Company: Teawala

 

Final Thoughts

Overall, I have to say, my favourite has to be the High Mountain oolong. I loved how clean the taste was and it reminded me of spring (despite being picked in autumn). I enjoyed all the teas I tried! Each one was very different than the next which made the whole tasting experience really exciting.

The question of the post: Which country would you want to visit?

3 comments on “Teawala’s High Mountain, Yunnan Black, Ceylon Highlands | Tea Review”

  1. All three teas look delicious – the hand-drawn pictures are a really nice touch as well. I’m a bit surprised that you only got three steeps out of the oolong – I heard they can normally do 5 or 6

    1. Very good eye! This is because I used the western brewing perimeters compared to gong fu/giawan. I felt that was more fair because the Ceylon Highlands is tradtionally not brewed in a gaiwan and I wanted to taste all the teas the same way.

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