Teappo was started by a husband and wife duo based in San Francisco, California. Their mission is to bring premium Taiwan loose leaf tea to tea lovers in the United States. All of their teas are directly sourced from sustainable tea gardens in Taiwan and most of them are single-origin, small-batch, and prepared using traditional methods (e.g.hand picking). They reached out to me to try three of their teas, which I hastily agreed as I wanted to get more understanding around Taiwanese Teas. I tried their Four Springs, Milk Oolong, and Orchid Oolong. Here are my thoughts:
Four Springs: I am always intrigued by the journey that the tea leaves make during a tea session. At the end of this one, I had a gaiwan full of beautiful lush leaves and it always brings a big smile on my face. I brewed this tea in a new tasting gaiwan that I purchased with 5 grams of tea leaves. Just looking at the dry leaves, they were small and looked to be hand-rolled. Each individual “ball” was fairly even with the others and when comparing the leaves, I saw that this tea had the greenest and smallest leaves of the three. The aroma of the tea at first reminded me of a slight roast but I quickly realized that my senses might have gotten that mixed up (as I normally flip between the two). This was further confirmed when doing a side-by-side tasting with my mom, where she was overwhelmed with the floral elements to this tea. It was also quite crisp, clean, and slightly creamy at times.
This tea brewed a pale and clear yellow. The taste of the brewed tea was quite sharp and crisp. My description of sharp came to be based on how it provoked a distinct reaction on my tongue and around my mouth, almost extra crisp-like. At first, I just felt overwhelming pleasantness come over me with some creamy serenity. My mom said that almost immediately she had some floral notes, and insisted that jasmine had to have been in this tea. In my first confusion of tasting, I did not a few roasted notes but I can almost guarantee that it was my tongue flip-flopping the two. As we neared the 4th steep, we noticed the tea getting more balanced. My mom said this one was the favorite of the three.
Also Known As: Four Seasons Spring (四季春)
Origin: Nantou, Taiwan
Altitude: 650 – 800 Meters
Orchid Oolong: This one was my personal favorite from the bunch, as it held a lot more roasted and warm notes compared to the others. I brewed 5 grams again in my normal gaiwan and got through about 6 steepings that I remembered to count before ending the session. This tea steeped a lovely clear and pale yellow color. It was not evident until compared with the other two that this tea brewed a slightly darker yellow due to the higher oxidization of the tea leaves. As I prepared the tea, I warmed my teaware and was able to capture a bit of the dry aroma. I noticed a very gentle roasted note rise from my gaiwan, reminding me almost of toasted pecans. Later, my mom and I identified a more toasted rice-like aroma that was slightly sweet. The dry leaves for this tea also looked to be hand-rolled, with a fairly even shape leaf to leaf. The leaves were much larger than that of the Four Springs tea, and also were the darkest of the three (I assume it is the most roasted/oxidized).
As I began brewing the tea, I noticed a plethora of roasted, sweet, and creamy notes first appear. With short appearances from floral and buttery notes as well. As I started to sip on the tea, similar notes to the wet aroma showed up: Lightly creamy, buttery, and slightly roasted. It brewed into something lovely and calming to me. As I brewed more, a few floral notes picked themselves out and it reminded me a bit of jasmine or something a bit stronger like violet. The side-by-side tasting revealed roasted, woody notes, and over time it became less rice-like and more toasted. I experienced something slightly off when doing a side-by-side tasting which was the rounding out in the mouth after three or four steeps. My mom enjoyed the change, but I thought it became slightly more hollow like an integral note dropped and left only this woody, roasted note.
Also Known As: Dong Ding Oolong (凍頂烏龍) or Frozen Peak Oolong
Origin: Nantou, Taiwan (In Luku of Nantou Country)
Altitude: 500 – 800 Meters
Double Walled Glass Cups from Kitchen Kite Tea Set
Milk Oolong: This was the most diverse tea taste-wise, as it felt like I had two completely different experiences with it when brewing it once inside and once outside. Oddly, my teaware, temperature, and amount of leaves did not change at all, just the location in and company that I consumed it with. I did the typical warming of the teaware and gently shook the leaves to wake them up. I personally noticed some floral, milky, and creaminess to the dry aroma. However, when doing a side-by-side analysis, there was a lot more green character, akin to spinach, that came out. However, in both sessions, I was reminded of notes typical to Ali Shan that sometimes feel impossible to describe. The leaves appeared to be larger like the Orchid Oolong and were fairly even in size, besides the few odd ones. This one was in the middle appearance-wise and when looking at the color, it was not as dark or light as previous ones.
The wet aroma of the tea was consistent with what I was expecting: A nice sweet milky/creamy note. That green note in the side-by-side analysis did stick around a bit and was prevalent in most of the steepings from then on. I was surprised by how mellow this tea ended up being, not astringent really until a small drying factor appeared on my tongue around the fourth steep. It tasted just a little bit sweetened and had that buttery feeling again. I tried to explain it to my mom when I experienced it, but it is something that just eventually clicks in the brain. I did not notice too many floral notes when consuming it, but I could have sworn that I would occasionally get small whiffs.
Also Known As: Jin Xuan (金萱) or Taiwan Tea #12
Origin: Nantou, Taiwan
Pricing: The Milk Oolong is available at $10 for 40 grams or $16 for 72 grams. Orchid Oolong is available at $12 for 40 grams or $19 for 72 grams. Finally, Four Springs is available at $8 for 40 grams or $12 for 72 grams. To start, I think this is a great deal for a consumer to get their hands on some quality tea from Taiwan. In fact, I was actually a bit shocked at these prices and believe that they could indeed raise their prices to account for the quality and work that went on behind these teas.
They also gave me a coupon code for 15% off, use code “TEAANDME” to try these teas! (I do not get any commission or compensation from this code, it is also located on the Discount Code Page).
Packaging: The packaging was fantastic, no aromas spilled from the top or from the zipper close. The labeling was also really well done and quite cute.
Sourcing: These tea come with great information about where in Taiwan these teas come from, in some cases, the elevation and tea varietal as well. I think this company has great transparency with their tea.
Sustainability: This is a new section in my blog posts! Here I will talk about any additional sustainability or eco-friendly practices that tea companies use for their product or packaging. Most of Teappo’s teas are loose leaf which use the least amount of packaging to consume, so this is a big thumbs up to me. They recently added some sachets to their offerings, all of which are 100% biodegradable, plant-based and pyramid shaped.
It is interesting, I realized when drinking these teas and exploring what I thought was a newer region for me. Except, I have consumed teas from Taiwan before, I just was not as aware of the fact. This is why it is important to have great tracing and sourcing information! Happy Brewing!