An Introduction to Pu Erh

Last week I reviewed Pu Erh Chorange, which was the first time in a long time I had made any Pu Erh tea. It’s something I tried once a long time ago, didn’t really care for and then moved on. About two years ago though, I started to get into drinking it again and picked up a sampler from Adagio with a few different varieties, and really liked most of them. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is a tea whose leaves are allowed to ferment, giving it a lot of character (and “aroma”)

I’ve been struggling with what to write about here other than just reviewing teas, and think that Pu Erh might be an interesting topic to explore, so I will be focusing on it for the next few weeks. I’ll be reviewing some more samples I have and hitting up my local tea shops to hopefully find a few more. I’ll also explain how the tea is made and maybe a little bit of the culture behind it. (What can I say, I get excited about weird things sometimes.)  I’ll be updating this post with links as I write so it can be a starting place for anyone interested in learning more about Pu Erh.

Pu Erh Chorange – 3.5/5

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Pu Erh Chorange

3 / 5

I like this tea because it is very…interesting. Dark, funky Pu Erh tea combined with a chocolate orange. That’s exactly what it tastes like. The chocolate and orange masks but doesn’t hide the trademark pungent smell of the tea. Flavor-wise, the orange and chocolate are really strong. Strong enough to overpower a normal tea, but the puerh holds up to it. The chocolate and the earthiness of the puerh play off each other well, and the orange lifts it up from being too heavy. Not something I would want to drink every day. Still, even after all the kinds of tea I’ve had, every time I drink it I think: “Hmm,  that’s different” (in a good way).

Tea Leaves: Earthy, chocolaty smell, with a hint of citrus.
Region: Unknown
Brewing: 212 degrees for 5 minutes
Purchased: Adagio –  $9 for 3oz*

*Prices are at time of review and may have changed.

Sweetwater Vanilla

3.5  / 5

One of my favorite teas to warm up with on those first fall Michigan days. the vanilla really takes over flavor-wise – but in a good way. It smells a bit like sugar cookies once it’s brewed. The Ceylon tea is “High Grown” which supposedly is the best quality. It’s hard to tell a difference because the vanilla is so strong. It does have almost no bitterness which is what allows the vanilla to shine so I can see why they chose it. 

Writing these reviews that last few weeks I’m realizing how much I tend to gravitate toward Ceylon tea, I’ve always known I enjoyed it, but it’s interesting that so many of my favorites over the past few years use it.

Tea Leaves: Sweet vanilla aroma

Region: Unknown (Likely Sri Lanka)

Brewing: 3-5 minutes @ 212º F.

Purchased: Great Lakes Tea and Spice – $16.95 for 3.5oz*

Al-wazah (Swan Tea) Ceylon

4  / 5

I’ve drunk (drank, drunken, dranked? I don’t know, grammar is silly) more of this tea than any other. It’s been my go-to day in, day out, make my brain work a little better source of caffeine. If I do the math right, I’ve gone through just shy of ten pounds of this tea in the last two years. As I mentioned before, Ceylon is one of my favorite types of tea, and this is a great example of that. Smooth, earthy, just a hint of bitterness, it’s what I think of when someone says the word “tea”. It’s maybe not as exciting as some exotic blend or exclusive hand-picked first-flush, but it has a solid flavor plain, with milk, or milk and honey. It’s also the first tea I ever bought that had the tea grading right on the box which I think is cool. Equally important, it costs about $6 for 400 grams (about 14 oz) where I buy it locally. Exotic tea is fun but gets expensive fast.

Bonus: I really like the design of their packaging:

Tea Leaves: Earthy, like fresh cut hay

Region: Sri Lanka 

Brewing: 3-5 minutes @ 212º F.

Purchased: Super Green Market – $16.95 for 3oz*
(It’s also on Amazon)

Goji Berry Green

3.5  / 5

This is another tea from Great Lakes Tea and Spice that I have gotten a few times over the last few years. To be honest, I’ve only had about half of it because it was my wife’s favorite tea for a while. It’s a nice green tea, grassy and mellow, the goji berries add a nice tart fruit taste. It reminds me a little bit of Adagio’s citron green, but with a little bit more floral flavors. Overall it makes a great late afternoon drink. 

Tea Leaves: Citrus, but still grassy aroma
Region: Unknown
Brewing: Heat water until steam just starts to rise, steep for 30 seconds the first time, and one minute the second. (Note: These are the official directions, to be honest though, I brew it like any other green tea, 170-180 degrees, 3-5 minutes. 
Purchased: Great Lakes Tea and Spice – $16.95 for 3oz*

*Prices are at time of review and may have changed.

Mackinaw Breeze

4.5  / 5

This week I get to share one of my favorite teas over the past few years: Mackinaw Breeze. It starts off with a base of Ceylon tea, one of my favorite black teas. A lot of times when you get a flavored tea they skimp on the quality of the base tea, but this is a great Ceylon tea. The juniper berries, black currants, and strawberry pieces take that and add a lightness to it with the fruit notes that they provide. You wouldn’t think that you could add three different fruits to a black tea and maintain a good balance, but that’s exactly what this tea does. It smells absolutely amazing. I almost always drink this hot, but I know that a lot of people like it as an iced tea as well. Either way, if you get a chance you should give it a try, you won’t regret it.

Tea Leaves: Delicious berry scent

Region: Sri Lanka 

Brewing: 3-5 minutes @ 212º F.

Purchased: Great Lakes Tea and Spice – $16.95 for 3oz*

*Prices are at time of review and may have changed.

A Tea Geek Sabbatical

Wow, it’s been five years!

Five. years.

I feel really old now, probably also because I just had my birthday.

Despite some solid intentions and a few half-hearted attempts, I’ve never made a real push to bring back tea geek: until now! I’ve just finished up a much-needed design upgrade and plan on posting here at least weekly. I’ve even already written and scheduled several posts for the upcoming weeks, so there is no turning back now!

What will I write about? I’ll continue to review teas. This site started as a way for me to try and keep track of new teas. I want to get back to that. Additionally, I want to expand into other kinds of posts, things that might be useful to a wider audience. What does that mean? I have some ideas, but even I haven’t narrowed it down exactly. Stay tuned, and if you have some feedback, I’d love to hear from you.


Persian Peach White

4  / 5

My biggest complaint about white tea is that they can be too subtle, and in the worst case, almost tasteless. Not so with this tea, which has become my favorite white tea. The peach aroma leads to a pleasant taste which matches. The tea provides a good base (silver needle and some other white tea), while the peach and citrus flavors shining through. Complimenting without overpowering.

Tea Leaves: Pleasantly strong floral peach aroma

Region: Unknown

Brewing: 5-7 minutes @ 180º F.

Purchased: Great Lakes Tea and Spice – $19 for 1.5oz*

*Prices are at time of review and may have changed.

Tea Review: Bai Mudan

First Impressions: Large brittle leaves, sweet grassy smell

Region: Fujian Province, China

Purchased at Samovar – $19 for 1.5oz when reviewed

A very delicate but flavorful white tea, this tea has a really smooth sweet aftertaste. Not nearly as grassy as I would have guessed based on the smell of the dry leaves. This would be a good first white tea to try if you are used to something a little darker. It shows of white tea’s high points without suffering from the lack of flavor they sometimes can have.

Rating: 3.5  / 5

Tea Review: Wuyi Dark Roast

Name:  Wuyi Dark Roast

Type:  Oolong

Region: Wuyi mountains in Fujian, China

Bought At:  Samovar

Price:  $21 for 2oz

First Impressions:  Dark Leaves, Roasted, Earthy Smell


Has it ever been a while since I have tried to review tea! This is part of a large tea order I bought from Samovar a while ago, so look for some more reviews coming soon. Wuyi Dark Roast is a different kind of oolong tea than any I have had before. It is dark and has a roasted scent and flavor that is usually found in black teas. Along with that it has a sweetness that is more similar to a greener oolong. It makes for a nice combination, a light tea that still has a full flavor. Definitely worth a try.

My Rating:

4  / 5