Tea Tasting at the Chicago Tea Garden

First to arrive, last to leave. It was worth it all the while. My husband and I were fortunate enough to indulge ourselves at one of Tony’s (Part Owner of Chicago Tea Garden) tea tastings and boy were we glad we went. There is nothing like great tea and adult conversation.

Amongst the oldies, we had the opportunity to try many new fresh teas that haven’t yet been made public. Here are the teas we tasted and my thoughts…

1. Silver Needle (White Tea) : 1st Steep- I found it be bright, slightly sweet and clean. 2nd Steep – A little more robust in flavor and a bit sweeter. Over all not bad but not for me.

2. Yue Guang Bai (Moonlight White Tea) : 1st Steep – Light body and creamy. 2nd Steep: Bolder, richer flavor, toasty, and less creamy. Preferred the 2nd Steep. This is a new one for Tony and the leaves on this one are very large and delicate, a very beautiful tea. Overall better than the first white tea. I had considered purchasing this one and would suggest it to white tea lovers but I could not buy everything I wanted so for me, it didn’t make the cut. Please bare in mind I am not much of a white tea drinker. Update: I couldn’t resist the call and purchased some on 3/2/11, the 1 year Anniversary of Chicago Tea Garden.  The tasting was held on 2/26/11.

3. Wu Yu (Jade Mist) – Love…Love…LOVE this gorgeous Pan Fried green tea. We didn’t go home without this one, plus ordered more on 3/2. 1st Steep – Vegetal, bold, slightly spinachy, and very green. The leaves are so fine and grow amazingly once steeped. 2nd Steep – Stronger and slightly bitter. Tony admits he over steeped it a bit. We all forgave him.

4. Ti Quan Yin (Monkey Picked Oolong) – I have dedicated this one to my Yiking Pot and love it. 1st Steep – Sightly grassy and floral. 2nd Steep – More grassy than the first and less floral. Bottom-line – YUMMY!

5. Ben Shan (A Roasted Oolong) – A new addition to Tony’s arsenal and quite possibly my more favorite of all the teas I tasted that afternoon. 1st Steep – Robust, sweet, roasted in flavor. 2nd Steep – Grassy, slightly sweet, a bit nutty. I highly recommend this one once it is officially available online.

6. Zealong Pure Oolong – A wonderful oolong grown in New Zealand. This is one of 3 offered by Tony. I tasted this for the first time. 1st Steep – Clean and grassy. 2nd Steep – Rounded flavor, equally grassy sweet and clean. 3rd Steep – Light in body and lost a bulk of it’s flavor. I preferred the 2nd steep the most.

7. Keeman Black Tea – This was the most puzzling of all the teas presented. There was a flavor and smell reminiscent of a memory in summer but none of us could put our finger on it. It had me curious enough to go home with some. 1st Steep – Smoky almost like a grill fire not to be confused with a wood fire. 2nd – Steep was stronger so it didn’t work for me. However, I made the purchase based on the first steep which I enjoyed and sparked a curiosity.

8. Golden Bi Luo – I LOVE this black tea. It looks like a snail before being steeped and a long smooth linear leaf once fully unfurled which for me was about the second steep. I have had this in the past and purchased more to restock. It is is a unique black tea.I find it is very difficult to get this one bitter. It has long since made it into my permanent stash.

9. Chrysanthemum Pu-Erh Toucha – I still haven’t explored many Pu-erh’s yet and this was alright for me. I felt the flower in the Toucha cut some of the usual earthy flavor. 1st Steep – earthy and slightly floral. 2nd Steep – More earthy and balanced in flavor.

With that said I walked out the door with seven teas. Some I had tasted at tasting and others on his menu. My husband and I had a wonderful time and may make the roughly 40 mile journey again. Check out some of Tony’s tea goodies at his website… 

or if interesting in a sampler set from me…


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