Camellia Sinensis Teahouse’s Summer Session 08/2020 (Part 2) | Tea Course & Review

by Tea in Spoons

Last week, I shared my experience attending Camellia Sinensis’ first virtual Summer Session! This week I will continue reviewing the teas that was a part of the event.

Camellia Sinensis offered two online sessions; one in English (August 8th) and one in French (August 9th). There was also an option to purchase the 8 teas which would be tasted during the event. I purchased the set so I could get the full experience and drink along. The live stream was open to the public and archived online.

This post is Part 2 of my 3 part series on the event. Last week I reviewed two of the 8 teas that I had during the live session! The posts are broken down based on how Kevin Gascoyne from Camellia Sinensis presented them during the event. This week we will be tasting a white tea, green tea, and an oolong!

  • PART 1 (last week’s post): Information about the course, the live session, and reviews for Sencha Tenryu and Shan Lin Xi;
  • PART 2 (this post!): Reviews for Jingning Yin Zhen, Long Jing Jingning Bai, Tong Tian Xiang; and, 
  • PART 3 (next week’s post): Reviews for Darjeeling 1st Flush Singell; Jin Guan Yin Hong and, Pu Er Sheng 2020 Yongde Da Shan.

For more information regarding the live session and the teas, read Part 1 of the series! With some basic information about the event, let’s go!

Jingning Yin Zhen

Description: “The infusion offers rich flavors of oats, fruit (ripe banana) and flowers, nuanced in the mouth by a peppery accent. Its rosy liquor is sweet, oily and full. Well balanced, it evolves to a minty and thirst quenching finish.”

Instructions: 5 grams | 200 ml | 75°C 

Review: The tea is from Jingning, which is outside of Fujian, where Yin Zhen normally originates from. The cultivar is Fuding Da Bai cultivar which is linked to the Fujian growing region. The tea was grown at 500m altitude and was harvested in April 2020. Kevin suggested using a glass brewing vessel. The dry buds were long, fuzzy, and silver with a hay, sweet, and fruity smell.

Infusion 1 (30 seconds): The dry leaves smelled of hay and an aroma that Kevin identified as “ripe bananas” which was very accurate! After infusing, the liquor had a pale yellow colour and was almost translucent. It had a sweet, fruity, and underlying hay note with some dryness.

Kevin mentioned that this tea is made of buds, not leaves and had the “beautiful taste of potential” since it had not become a leaf yet and interacted with the environment. When it came to brewing, Kevin also commented that he leaves his hand on top of the vessel so he doesn’t forget when brewing! That is a handy tip!

Infusion 2 (20 seconds – approximately): The liquor was slightly darker with a classic hay smell from white teas. The same ripe banana was present, along with a peppery accent that Kevin mentioned. The liquor also tasted of fruit and floral and ended with a lingering hay note. When cooled, the liquor was more hay and floral with dryness at the back of the throat.

I personally have not tried this, but Kevin suggested tasting white teas with a scotch which would show how a delicate white tea can dominate a scotch. He recommended trying the ‘sandwich method’ which is tasting tea, scotch and then tea. I would be interested in how it tastes if anyone tries this!

Infusion 3 (40 seconds): Again, the liquor was mildly darker. The ripe banana aroma was present. Taste-wise, the liquor was subtle and tasted of hay and orchid with some dryness. When tasting, Kevin noted that the infusion could have gone up to a minute, but I kept the original 40 second time.

Since this is the third infusion, Kevin explained that during each separate infusion, the water pulls out different chemicals from the buds/leaves. Some are released quickly, whereas others are slower. With longer infusion times (1-3+ minutes), the tea becomes a “soup of all the moments” as all the chemicals are pulled into the liquor together, whereas the shorter infusions allow for the different tastes to shine through.

During the end of the tasting, Kevin recommended smelling the wet buds, pitcher/fair cup and bottom of the cup. The pitcher was reminiscent of fruit and the liquor was floral. The olive green wet leaves were more orchid, floral, and hay. Overall, this tea was lovely and it was nice to hear more about the tea producing regions (3.5/5 rating)!

  • Type: White tea
  • Origin: China
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Ingredients: White tea
  • Company: Camellia Sinensis

Long Jing Jingning Bai

Description: “Its light and flowing liquor is full and its tangy flavour, reminiscent of rocket, leaves a pleasant sensation of freshness.”

Instructions: 4 grams | 150ml | 80°C 

Review: For this tea, Kevin used a tea flask/travel bottle which are popular in China and around the world to travel with and make tea. Since the bottle is made of glass, as the leaves opened up, the tea is visible! During each infusion, Kevin filled the tea flask halfway.

The tea was grown at 800m and only a 2kg batch was made. The dry leaves were pressed flat and an olive and yellow green. It smelled roasted and started to stand vertically in the vessel when the water was added.

Infusion 1 (40 seconds): After the infusion, the liquor smelled nutty and was a pale yellow. It tasted roasted, fresh, and vegetal. A flavour that Kevin picked up was arugula/rocket. The liquor had a nice lingering in the mouth and some bitterness during the tail end. When cooled, it was more vegetal with some lingering nuttiness.

Infusion 2 (20 seconds): The liquor was similar in colour to the first infusion. The taste had shifted from nutty/roasted to a “green salad” and mineral.

Infusion 3 (20 seconds): The liquor was more vegetal and slightly subtle. The wet leaves had a yellow-green tinge and had green veins since the cultivar is Jingning Bai compared to others which would have a white one like Anji bai cha! Kevin tasted a wet leaf and suggested the wet leaves could be eaten or put in a salad.

Infusion 4 (35 seconds): Since it was a live session, Kevin only infused the tea three times, however, he recommended that the tea could be infused more or to put the leaves in the fridge for the following day. During this steeping, the leaves were more vegetal with some lingering nuttiness.

This is another tea that was packed with information! I really enjoyed how unified the tea was and the nice roasted nutty notes as well (3.5/5 rating).

  • Type: Green tea
  • Origin: China
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Ingredients: Green tea
  • Company: Camellia Sinensis

Tong Tian Xiang

Description: “In true modern Dan Cong style, this tea bursts with floral aromas (gardenia, lilies) right off the rinse, while steeping reveals a rich aromatic body with notes of peach and caramelised sugar. 

Instructions: 5-7 grams | 95°C | rinse

Review: The tea is from the Phoenix Mountains and the name of the tea means “Heaven’s scent”, which is also the name of the cultivar. It was grown at 650m and was harvested in April 2020. Kevin explained that this is a Dan Cong (single trees), which are normally roasted and this tea specifically was a medium roast. Some of the Dan Cong are processed in a way where the teas are roasted and left to age and the strong roasting to dissipate.

The dry leaves were dark brown, almost chocolate and had a sweet, malt and comforting smell. After warming the gaiwan and adding the leaves, the leaves had a sweet, floral (orchid), caramel, and chocolate smell.

I have to also state I sadly do not own an unglazed fire roasted gaiwan, nor could I find the information about the one that Kevin used. Therefore, I went with a gaiwan that seemed similar in size – a 150 ml. Kevin gave a tip to new users to hold the gawain with the thumb at the top and fingers under the cup so you don’t burn your hand when you pour! I wish I had known this trick earlier on!

Infusion 1 (25 seconds): The golden orange liquor smelled roasted and charcoal. It transformed into a sweet fruity, caramel taste and rounded off with charcoal.

Infusion 2 (10 seconds): The second infusion was much more fruity and floral and had the same charcoal smell. Kevin mentioned it had a coconut smell which I could understand as well!

Infusion 3 (25 seconds): The liquor still had a predominant taste and Kevin recommended that it could be infused a few more times. He also noted that most of the action was at the “top” of the mouth, which is something I had never considered before!

Infusion 4 (40 seconds): The liquor still had a fruity note and the charcoal was less dominant. There were some sweet notes with earthy becoming more forward and dryness on the tongue.

Infusion 5 (55 seconds): The liquor started off sweet and fruity, but became charcoal, astringency and bitter at the tail end.

Infusion 6 and 7 (1.10 minutes and 1.25 minutes): For both infusions, the liquor was mostly astringency. After infusing, the leaves were a dark brown and khaki green colour and had a light roasted smell.

Overall, I really enjoyed the range of this tea! I need to try more teas from the Phoenix Mountains (3.5/5 rating)!

  • Type: Oolong tea
  • Origin: China
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Ingredients: Oolong tea
  • Company: Camellia Sinensis

Final Thoughts

Overall, it was nice to compare 3 teas from China and see how different they are! I also liked the little tips and tricks for each tea Kevin provided. I enjoyed all of these tea equally and I don’t know which one I would pick if I had too! I would highly recommend watching the archived sessions as it comes in both English and French.

The question of the post: Which tea would you like to try?

  • PART 1 (last week’s post): Information about the course, the live session, and reviews for Sencha Tenryu and Shan Lin Xi;
  • PART 2 (this post!): Reviews for Jingning Yin Zhen, Long Jing Jingning Bai, Tong Tian Xiang; and, 
  • PART 3 (next week’s post): Reviews for Darjeeling 1st Flush Singell; Jin Guan Yin Hong and, Pu Er Sheng 2020 Yongde Da Shan.

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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!