• Reviews

    Chicago Tea Garden Zealong Pure

    I’m always excited to try teas from unusual or new growing regions. Chicago Tea Garden is the first company in the United States to sell Zealong, the only tea that is produced in New Zealand. It is grown naturally without the use of chemical fertilizers. The dry leaves resembled a typical hand rolled oolong and had a strong, woodsy aroma. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 195 degree water and 40 second infusions. The liquor was bright and brassy in color. The first infusion was sweet and somewhat floral with a thick mouth feel. Each subsequent infusion brought out subtle changes in the flavor profile that really made this tea…


  • Reviews

    Chicago Tea Garden Rose Scented Pu-erh Toucha

    According to Chicago Tea Garden this tea is scented with rose petals. The dry cake smelled just as you would suspect of a rose tea but it was a bit earthy as well. It reminded me of the way soil smells right after a rain shower. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 212 degree water and 30 second steepings. The liquor was surprisingly light and clear for a pu-erh. In comparison, many of the pu-erh teas that I have tried had an almost opaque appearance. Floral teas can be tricky. I find that they tend to be either under or over done most of the time. The pu-erh was definitely…

  • Reviews

    Chicago Tea Garden Jasmine Scented Pu-erh Toucha

    This tea was presented in the form of a compressed toucha wrapped in tissue paper. According to Chicago Tea Garden it contains the petals of the jasmine sambac, which is the night blooming flower traditionally used to make jasmine scented teas. I brewed this tea in a porcelain gaiwan with 212 degree water using four subsequent 30 second steepings. The liquor was a bright copper color and had a light floral aroma. At first I was on the fence about this tea. At times it was a little too astringent but at others it was a nice balance between the sweetness of the jasmine and the earthiness of the puerh. The third infusion…

  • Reviews

    Chicago Tea Garden Camel’s Breath Pu-erh Toucha

    I have to admit that the name of this tea intimidated me quite a bit. I had to save it for a day when I was feeling brave enough. This tea is compressed into little concave cakes that are individually wrapped in tissue. I brewed this tea in a porcelain gaiwan with 212 degree water using 30 second steepings. The liquor was incredibly dark and almost murky from the very start. I hit my limit after four infusions but this tea definitely could have kept going. Luckily for me there wasn’t much to worry about. This was actually a very enjoyable tea. It was strong but sweet, reminding me of a good Irish…

  • Reviews

    Chicago Tea Garden Competition Grade Tie Guan Yin

    Did I mention that I love the Chicago Tea Garden? This is yet another tea sourced from David Lee Hoffman. This a lightly oxidized oolong tea that is rolled into tight little balls. The dry leaves were varying shades of deep green and had a lightly floral smell to them. I brewed this tea in a porcelain  gaiwan using 190 degree water and 30 second infusions. The resulting liquor was a deep gold color with a sweet aroma. I must have done at least eight steepings. Even though I am an oolong fanatic, Tie Guan Yin is probably one of my least favorites. I often find the floral aspect of the flavor profile…

  • Reviews

    Chicago Tea Garden Sticky Rice Toucha

    Even though I drink as much tea as I do, the complexity of Pu-erh intimidates me so I don’t have it very often. Every once in a while I will get brave and order a sample or two. This tea is yet another one sourced from David Lee Hoffman. If any tea can be described as cute it is the pu-erh toucha. These neat little compressed balls of tea are simply adorable. I was immediately struck by the rich and nutty aroma, even before steeping. According to Chicago Tea Garden this is caused by it being stored with the herb Nuomixiang for several months. I brewed this tea using a gaiwan and boiling…