Last of this. Sadness. Just a quick note to myself that this is wonderful and I should totally order more (but it’s going to take many, many months of careful budgeting before I can place the massive order to Verdant Tea that I really want…)
52 Tasting Notes
There’s something heavier, more substantial to this TGY than I’m used to— After reading the description, I think maybe I’ve just never had good autumn TGY. Buttery and creamy is an accurate way to describe this. I actually didn’t find it especially floral, I mean, no more than usual for a TGY. But I tend to prefer grassy to floral anyway.
It’s not raining today, but it’s the kind of day I like to put on some storm-sound mp3s and just relax with a fine tea, perhaps while idly browsing some tea-themed forums or blogs. It’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon before having to go in to work for a late closing shift.
I’m getting to where I’ve tried more than a few pu’ers now, and I feel like it’s a getting a little redundant to say one tastes “earthy” because, well, every pu’er I’ve had has held that characteristic. It’s like saying peppermint tea tastes minty. Pu’er experts of steepster, is this an accurate judgement?
But this one, under the obvious earthiness, holds some note I’m not sure I’ve tasted before… I kind of want to say.. mineral, maybe? It reminds me of what water might taste like if I was taking a hike in the woods and stopped to drink from a stream… just very fresh and cool and yet… rugged and natural, outdoorsy, like fresh air. I know those aren’t generally words used to describe tea, but I’m trying here.
In my, still admittedly novice, experiences with pu’er, between shu and sheng, shu is growing on me much faster. Maybe it’s just that dark earthiness… shu seems more… soil and fall leaves to me, whilst sheng tastes more like spring saplings, still earthy, but more woody and less soil-y. And I just really dig that “forest floor” quality in all of the shu that I’ve tried.
I know, it sounds like I’m talking about drinking trees, but trust me when I say I mean this in the best way possible.
I’m looking at the leaves now and noticing that these are some resilient little nuggets. I’m about 7-8 post-rinse steeps in and they’re still clinging together in their little clusters. Some of them are significantly darker than others— I wonder why this is? Maybe some of them were on the outside of the piles while they were aging while others were at the center? I have so much to learn about pu’er (and so little money!)
Mmm, I’ll also note that the “river water” note as I’m now calling it, seems to emerge best when the water is at it’s hottest— I just reboiled the water and that bright, clean note is now stronger than ever. I really love it. I just wish my tea-vocabulary could describe it.
Ooh, just caught a berry note. Delightful. This is now a hike-in-the-woods-and-drink-from-a-stream-and-eat-a-handful-of-wild-blackberries tea. All the adventure, none of the risk of snakebites, bee stings, or stumbling over a root and spraining an ankle.
I’m noticing the darker nuggets seem to be much more stubborn to open and separate than the lighter colored ones. Maybe the darker ones are more compact? At least they’ve all sunk now; for the longest time one of the darkest nuggets insisted on floating on the surface of the water as it steeped.
I’ve just now come up with a new term for that river-water taste/feel: rocky. Or maybe going back to mineral would be more accurate. I can’t say I’ve ever picked up a rock and sucked on it, not since I was a child at least, but I expect water rushing over lots of little river-pebbles might tasted something like this.
I love how shu just seems to last forever and ever. The only downside to that is that I can’t just have a quick morning session before work without feeling like I’m wasting several steepings. This is definitely a slow, unwinding evening sort of tea. I really would love more evenings like this.
I feel the need to revisit (and re-rate) this tea after having received brewing advice on it. It seems my love for packing the gaiwan doesn’t have the best results when it comes to teas like this!
So I scaled back from 4g/90ml to 2.3g (well, I planned on trying 2g, but the leaves were in this nice little 2.3g chunk and I wasn’t sure how I was going to break that apart without damaging the leaves, so I went with it).
I can certainly say that with the lesser leaf, the sharp astringency that put me off last time is pretty much gone. I have to compensate with slightly longer steep times, which took me a bit to adjust to, but the results are very pleasing.
I will start by saying that I don’t know what this is, but this incredibly relaxing “tea-high” mental fog seems to come especially strong with this tea— I noted it was especially strong last time I tried it too. Not sure if it’s coincidence or something special in this particular tea, but it’s a factor I can’t ignore.
Nuttiness is a factor I’ve really come to love in teas, as well as this woody/earthiness I’ve only just been introduced to since wading around in the shores of pu’er (okay, that’s a strange mental image). I get a bit of a spicy aftertaste now that I didn’t get before; that’s really very pleasing. The later steeps still remind me a lot of Cream of Wheat (I was totally obsessed with that stuff when I was a kid). Overall I think it’s a very nice comfort tea.
I just went to Verdant Tea’s site to check the pricing on this stuff, and it’s 13.50 an ounce, ouch. Good as this stuff is, I’m not sure the experience is worth that much to me, personally. Although an ounce would go a long way, especially using 2g per session, I would rather spend on something I haven’t tried already.
It’s funny how I am much more than willing to pay a lot for samples of tea I have never tried than for larger amounts of tea I already know I like. Maybe that’s just the sign of a greener tea-drinker; maybe years later after I’ve got a pretty good handle on what most teas from major growing regions taste like, I’ll settle a little and be more than happy to buy entire cakes of stuff like this. But right now, the prospect of a brand new tea experience is worth more of my tea-budget than a repeat of something I know I love.
But back on the topic of the actual tea, I want to thank Geoffrey for the brewing suggestion; go easy on the leaf amount, especially if you’re super-sensitive to astringency as I am, heh. It really improved my enjoyment of this tea!
So this stuff makes a pretty good ice-pop!
Brewed this up pretty strong (20g to 4 cups) and sweetened with 1/4c sugar, froze into some ice-pop molds… very satisfying and refreshing. Might brew it stronger next time though, since the tastebuds tend to numb when eating frozen treats. I also don’t like super-sweet stuff, so if you want to try it, you might find yourself adding more sugar. I’m thinking of cutting it back further next time.
Not the conventional way to enjoy tea, but hey, it’s July in central Texas; some days hot tea is not going to cut it! I wonder what other teas might be good frozen?
I need to write more. Boo.
So after the leaves from a mystery-origin (Protip: don’t label tea tins with post-its) TKY were spent, I brewed up some of this, and in contrast to the TKY, this tasted much bolder and very fruity….the fruitiness especially got my attention… golden raisins and white peaches come to mind. I actually enjoyed it more than the TKY, which I found strange, since this tea is much older and lower-quality than the TKY I was drinking. This leads me to a few possible conclusions:
- The mystery TKY I was enjoying before this is actually older/lower grade than I believed, and was just a bad comparison. I’ll be honest in that I was very passively enjoying the TKY while working on a project and wasn’t especially paying a lot of attention to it.
- I have had so much TKY lately that I am burned out on it or it just tastes standard to me, and it was nice to have something different in an oolong.
- This tea has been sitting around so long (seriously, I think I’ve had this little tin for three years) that it magically developed new flavor characteristics with time. Kind of unlikely, I think (at least, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of green oolongs aging well), but I won’t rule it out.
I mean, I’ll be honest, I never thought of this as an amazing tea. I’m pretty sure that this is leftover from a sampler from years ago when I was beginning my tea-tasting journey; I guess in that early phase of trying every tea possible this one fell by the wayside in that awkward category of, “good, but there are better”. So it became a “mixer,” something I would occasionally add a few leaves of to my morning mug-worthy blacks for some extra richness, but not something I considered taking the time to gaiwan-brew. Once I lumped it into that category, it kind of stayed there for years, and I think my tastes have since changed. Honestly, the only reason I decided to brew it is because I only had a tiny bit left, and I’m trying to finish off all my little bits. But this tea really surprised me. I’m a little sad it’s gone.
I don’t think I will order this again (I might, just to settle the nagging theory that it was the age that brought out the best of it), sadly the flavor faded after only a few short steeps but I definitely want to investigate other huang jin oolongs now.
When I was first exploring the tea-world, I guess I latched onto TKY as “BEST OOLONG EVER” and made the mistake of shunning other perfectly good oolongs such as this. Discoveries like this kind of make me kick myself over missed opportunities, but at the same time are pretty exciting; I feel like a tea-newbie all over again!
I will start this out by saying that I absolutely hate hot hibiscus-based tea. Just, ew.
But iced? That’s another story. This tea has become a summertime staple for my household; it’s tart and sweet and fruity and all around perfect for quickly-approaching summertime afternoons. And it doesn’t need added sugar, so it’s pretty guilt-free as far as refreshing cold drinks go. We just reordered another pound of it (it’s very affordable too, huge plus).
No notes yet.
My throat is killing me again. I seem to come down with really bad, persistent sore throats on at least a quarterly basis since moving to Texas. I’m not sure if it’s just the air or the fact that I’m living in very close quarters with five other people or if my immune system is just shot due to having absolutely no sleep cycle, 4am shifts alternated with 8pm shifts, but whatever the cause, it usually results in my drinking tea around the clock.
This stuff is absolutely hitting the spot today, I was so excited to have some warm liquid soothing my throat that I unfortunately burned my tongue on the first steeping. That might affect my perceptions a bit, but I am loving it all the same.
I find that I really like just looking at this tea in my cup. The liquor is this lovely solar yellowish-orange, and contrasted against the white of the porcelain cup, it reminds me very much of a runny egg yolk setting in a perfectly cooked white. And I am reminded that it’s been far too long since I’ve had eggs, but now I’m just completely derailing what’s supposed to be a tea review.
I’m really feeling that tea-high fog now though. I had it pretty strong the last time I tried a sheng too.. I’ll have to keep tracking it to see if the pattern persists.
Getting this really nice, almost fruity sweetness in the back of my throat with this. The woody/earthiness early on has actually mellowed out a lot in these later steepings, it’s reminding me a lot more of a white tea now.
I have been seriously contemplating investing in some bricks/cakes of pu’er lately. I just know I would get such a joy out of seeing how a tea changes over the years, and since I expect I’ll still be enjoying tea late into my years, I figure if I buy now, I’ll have something really special by that time.
But I still know next to nothing about buying pu’er, what characteristics to look for that will develop over time, not to mention I’m not in a living situation that allows for me to construct any kind of fancy storage for them. And then there’s every tea-drinker’s greatest fear of developing some kind of caffeine intolerance later in life, essentially throwing the investment out the window.
Ooh, I just got this really nice cracked pepper note. And that teahigh fog grows ever stronger. I forget what steeping I’m on now… I’ve refilled my little water pot twice, so probably around… 10-12? It’s sort of got this cooling mint-like sensation too, without actually tasting minty. Really nice on my sore throat.
Another tea-expense I’ve been contemplating is yixing pots. Right now my trusty gaiwan is serving me faithfully, but as my little tea-habit becomes more serious, I continue to wonder what could make my experience better. At the same time though, I know I should probably wait until I’m in a less-crowded living situation to collect more material objects, especially ones that could be easily broken by housemates.
But something else on my long tea-wishlist is a few clay animals or “tea pets” to include in my little ceremonies. As an animal-lover as well as a mythical-creature enthusiast, I would really get a lot of enjoyment out of incorporating these symbolic guests into my tea-rituals. Problem is, I’m rather picky about them and I’ve only seen a few that I really like, most of which are of unfortunate expense.
I also find it a little difficult to spend money on something which seemingly won’t directly enhance the tea itself, but a recent article on Verdant Tea’s Tea Discovery blog about Tea Ceremony really has me re-evaluating the importance and benefit of the ritual, regardless of the quality of the tea (or occasionally, regardless of it there is any actual tea present at all!)
Oh look, I’ve gone way, way off topic again. I blame this tea-high fog. I feel so relaxed right now and the pain in my throat has almost completely subsided for now. Pretty happy with this stuff.
No notes yet.
It’s September, and high school’s been in session for a month now… that initial excitement and drive I get at the beginning of the year is quickly waning. I’m sitting in chemistry absent-mindedly nibbling on the end of a drawing pencil, half paying attention to what the teacher is saying, half-heartedly doodling dragons and other fantastical creatures in the margins of my notes, squinting at them, thinking someday, I’ll draw better, I just have to practice more. Maybe when I get home.. I don’t have that much homework so far, after all.
But then it hits me… it’s Wednesday and that means it’s my turn to rake the leaves before dinner. I briefly look out the window and to the sky, wondering what my chances are that a downpour will get me out of this chore. Not likely, it seems; the few clouds up there are fluffy and white, and a heavy wind seems to be blowing even them away, not to mention even more multi-colored leaves off the trees. But despite the wind’s efforts to make my afternoon tasks harder for me, I wish we could open the window so I could feel that breeze through this stuffy classroom.
When I get home, I reluctantly change into my work clothes, finding the pants with the huge pockets that I can fit my portable CD player in. The wind tried to work in my favor after all, and the sky is overcast by now, but no rain means I still have to sacrifice my drawing practice for the cosmetic appearance of our backyard. Sighing, I put on my work gloves, grab the old splintery rake, and step outside.
Fall weather is almost as intoxicating to the senses as spring weather, the harsh heat ebbing away, the cooling breezes stripping the trees of their dead to make way for new life, playing with their colors and shapes, guiding them, dancing and spinning gently to the earth, where the life-forms below take their role of consuming them, feeding themselves and the soil, making it fertile and ready for the far-off spring. I can almost taste it on the wind, the ancient annual rituals of the earth as it prepares itself before a wintry hibernation.
The work is never as painful as I think it will be, and I relax into the rhythm of the raking, synchronized with the sounds of the drum and didgeridoo playing in my ears through my cheap dollar-store headphones. Very deep and earthy rhythms; so full of mystery, one could believe they mimic the heartbeat of the planet itself.
The work is over faster than I expect, yet the sun is going down and I know I’ve been out here a while. The heaping pile of leaves I’ve raked to the curb is just too inviting though, and without even checking around for a scolding parent, I leap right in, ignoring my CD player’s protests as it skips on impact, burying myself in the soft crackles and crunches, inhaling deeply. I don’t care if I’m barely a kid anymore, this is still the best part of autumn.
But finally I’m drawn out of my leafy haven by another inviting scent, one coming from inside the house, something warm and spicy, sweet and dark… someone is baking gingersnaps. I let out a laugh of sheer bliss as I brush the leaves off my jacket and head back inside. Drawing practice can wait. Days like this don’t come often enough.
…Anyway, that’s what this tea reminds me of.
You know what’s absolutely amazing with this tea?
Monkey bread. Seriously. I know that’s probably tea-blasphemy or something but it seriously works together in an I NEVER WANT THIS TO END sort of way.
“Well, this is interesting,” I thought as I opened the little sample packet. My experience with pu’er is extremely limited (I guess that’s what inspired me to step out and order the samplers from Verdant Tea). The dry leaf was, well, chunky, as one would expect from a tea that had been chipped off a compressed cake, but it was exciting to my pu’er-noviceness.
My first impression of the leaf smell was…wood. Like the wooden desk I had when I was a little kid that for some reason, I enjoyed licking. I don’t know why, I was a weird kid, but that’s the first thing that came to mind.
After two rinsings, I had a bit of trouble getting this down for the first couple of steepings; it came off very astringent to me, despite near-instant steep times. But there was a nuttiness that was very apparent, along with more of that woody-flavor. Happily, a few steepings later the overbearing astringency subsided a bit. The emerging flavor is one I’m not quite sure how to describe; seeing as I have so little experience with teas like this I’m not really sure what to compare it to. There is sort of a light sweetness, almost like that in a white tea, and maybe a sort of whole-grainy flavor, like a hot breakfast cereal.
Overall, I’m not sure I’m exactly wild about this tea, but it’s certainly something I’d like to revisit later after I’ve had more experience with teas of this sort. Pu’er really is a whole world of its own.
On a side note, occasionally when I drink tea, I get this weird heady, cloudy, relaxed feeling that I half-jokingly refer to as “teahigh”. So far it doesn’t seem tea-specific; it seems to be pretty random. It’s not strictly caffeine or tea-related either, since I’ve experienced the feeling with herbals as well, and occasionally even coffee. But when trying this tea, almost as soon as the cup touched my lips I started getting that heady feeling, and much stronger than usual. I actually had to space out the steepings throughout the course of the day because I had some projects I needed to focus on. While I’m still pretty sure the feeling isn’t tea-specific, I figured I would make note of it anyway, just in case.
Mmm, this isn’t bad. I love the complexity this tea adds to a blend, so I decided to try it out on its own. It’s pretty good, but I think I’ll stick with blending it; it’s just not robust enough on its own for me. It’s certainly interesting and different from a lot of other blacks, and I can appreciate the light fruity notes, but personally I’m just partial to stronger, darker blacks that can stand alongside my breakfast.
I suppose since it’s Easter I should go find some sort of spring-y tea to drink or something!
Running on something like four hours of sleep, just getting home after a tiring day at work, and I’m faced with an important question: Do I want to dive right into a long afternoon nap, or brew up some tea?
A few minutes later I’m yelling at these leaves. SINK, I SAY, SINK! Mashing them down into the water with the edge of the gaiwan lid. I forget these incredibly light and fluffy teas have a hard time actually sitting in the water to steep— they’d much rather float. It looks like tons of little asparagus stems floating in the tiny cup. They’re very cute. Trying not to fall asleep in it.
Picked this tea because I organized all my tea the other day and am making an effort to use up the teas that I just have little bits of, trying to narrow my selection a bit. I had a little more than enough for one session of this. So I decided it would just be a stronger session. And what the heck else was I going to do with a single gram of tea, anyway.
Since it was the bottom of the tin though, it was full of lots of little leaf bits, which were fun to watch swirl around in the bottom of the teacup. It’s like confetti. The leaves keep sticking inside the lid of that gaiwan too. I am so delusional-ly tired I find this very amusing.
Maybe I should have just gone to bed. But this tea is okay, if a wee bitter. It kinda irritates the back of my throat. Or maybe there’s just a bit of the leaf caught back there. But it’s warm and comforting and delicate. I find myself suddenly craving pears, and feta cheese. I don’t know why. I suppose there is a bit of a pear note to this tea. But then it’s also lightly vegetal, like… a pear salad. Yes, that’s it. But it still needs feta.
…I really think I should just go nap now before I come up with an even sillier interpretation.
According to the description, this tea was traditionally offered only to the emperors of China. Those emperors must have either been incredible tea-masters, or lacking the tastebuds that detect tannins.
Or maybe I just just an off-batch, but, I can’t drink this stuff. It kind of reminded me of that time I tried eating an acorn. No matter how I steep it, it just feels like a cup of biting astringency. I’ve actually had this little sample tin around for a while, and once in a while, I feel adventurous and try it again. Maybe today, I think, will be the day I can coax some nice flavor out of this. Every time I regret it. Even using almost tepid water temperatures, even using two-second steep times, the intense astringency overpowers everything (which is sad, because I can tell that there really is a nice flavor underneath).
It could be just me, though. I shared this with a friend once and she thought it was great. Maybe I’m just super-sensitive to astringency (or maybe she’s descended from one of those Chinese emperors)
Ah well. Today was the day that I used the last of this tea, to no flavorful avail. Farewell, Snow Water Green Cloud tea. At least you had a very cute name.
I just realized I have quite a bit of this tea (by “quite a bit” I mean probably enough for at least 5 more sessions). And I’ve had it for a little over two years now, still in its little sample tin (remember those? Oh I have so, so many of those cute little Adagio sample tins). So naturally it’s a little stale and lost a bit of flavor, but it’s still very comforting right now.
I remember when I was first really, really getting into tea and wanting to show it off to everyone I knew, this was one of my favorites to demonstrate because the leaves are so tightly packed and then unfurl throughout the steepings into nice clusters of big leaves and stems, sometimes four or five whole leaves attached to one stem. It’s pretty impressive and gets a nice reaction from the onlookers. I love taking the leaves out of the gaiwan once they’re spent, and spreading them out on the tray. One of those teas that’s just a lot of fun to play with. I remember in particular a few people asking, after the demonstration, if they could take one of the leaf clusters home. No idea what they planned on doing with them, but it was a good sign they enjoyed the whole experience.
Ah, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a tea brewing demonstration for other people. Good times.
I was looking through my tea cabinet for something interesting when I came across a small green sealed package simply labeled “Muzha Tieguanyin 2005” I don’t even remember where this came from, or how long I’ve had it (I really ought to keep track of this stuff), but I thought what the hey, I love oolongs, I love tieguanyin, I may as well try it!
I was a bit surprised, to be honest, by the roasty aroma and the very dark, nearly black leaves, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a roasted oolong before, so this was going to be a new experience. for me; I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I had already temped the water at around 175, as I wasn’t expecting such a dark, roasty tea. A couple steepings at this temperature and I quickly learned that wasn’t going to work— I was going to need to reboil the water to pull the full flavors from this one. After that, the roasted flavors sort became much stronger; reminded me of very much of houjicha (but with much less astringency). Rather warm and soothing, but I was a little disappointed that throughout the whole session the flavor remained exactly the same, the strong roasted flavor overshadowing any other flavors the tea might have had.
I wonder, is this typical of roasted oolongs? If so, I’m not sure they fall under my favorites. I have enough left for another session, so maybe next time I’ll brew it alongside my staple houjicha and see if I can find any other flavors under all that roasty-toastiness.
This is a very memorable tea for me. After brewing my teas western-style for years, this Snow Dragon was the first tea I brewed in a gaiwan, JAS eTea actually sent it to me as a free sample when I bought my first gaiwan from them (a gaiwan that has sadly since hit the floor). I remember they enclosed a little hand-written thankyou note in the package too; that made me feel kind of fuzzy inside.. I love it when sellers show some piece of humanity in their products.
But this tea is not the same as I remember it back then. This may be in some part due to the fact that this tea is probably pretty stale now, as it’s been at least two years since I opened the package. Kind of a shame, because I remember being completely enamored with it at first. Of course, another contributing factor is probably that my tea-palate has developed considerably in that time, and I might be a lot pickier than I was when I first tried this.
I’m still struggling with this desire (in tea, and in life in general) to save the best things for special occasions. In all truth, I probably would have enjoyed this tea a lot more had I just gone through the whole package while it was still fresh, and/or I could appreciate it a lot more. But no, I decided that this tea was so amazing, so divinely tea-high inducing, that I had to hoard it away and wait for some specific undefined moment in life to enjoy it. What a silly idea.
The funny thing is, I’m actually finding this tea a little …well, trickier to brew than I remember. Even ten or so steepings in, it seems to very easily oversteep, resulting in a quickly bitter cup if I leave it steeping more than even a few seconds. I can either assume this is because the tea is old and stale, or consider that my novice tea-brewing efforts might somehow have…been better than they are now. Admittedly, back then I was very, very carefully focusing on every motion of the process in true Chinese tea-ceremony style, and right now I just have a plate on my desk that holds my gaiwan, fairness pitcher, and little fish cup, and am just sort of re-steeping as necessary while I’m doing other things (Like writing this, for instance).
This tea is still just as cute as it always was, rolled into tight curls that remind me of woodshavings, and just as wonderful to watch unfurl in the gaiwan, even if I’m not focusing on it as much as I used to. Watching those buds unravel is still one of my favorite parts of the tea-brewing process. The flavor is still very white-tea-esque, light and fruity and sweet fading to a greener flavor in later steepings. Overall, it’s still a very good tea when I focus on it for what it is now, and not in comparison to a distant infatuated memory.
Hah, life lessons from a teacup!
wow this tea is something else.
My mind is a little too blown to pick out little flavors and describe it in fancy terminology but I will say that I set up my tea-table and brewed this up as something to sip on while doing some housecleaning and ended up just sitting down and savoring it. It was so good it required my full attention.
The first three or four infusions, I will say, wow’d me the most. Later on the flavors became a bit more muted, until I went and reboiled the water for hotter, longer steepings. The flavors started popping again then, but it tasted like a completely different tea!
I have enough of this tea left for one or two more sessions— I’ll have to make sure to take better notes then.
I’m really not a huge drinker of Japanese greens. I think. I’m just drinking through a lot of it lately because when I’m not looking for the caffeine-rush of huge mugs of strong western-brewed black tea, it comes down to the fancy oolongs, chinese greens, and whites, which I brew in my gaiwan, and Japanese greens. And I just don’t feel like breaking out the fancy gongfu setup lately, so Japanese greens it is. But I think they’re really starting to grow on me, the more I drink them.
I love to nibble on rice crackers when I’m drinking this stuff; the ones I pick up from the Asian grocery that I can’t read any of the text on. But they’re crunchy, savory with a bit of sweetness, glazed in soy sauce (or something flavored like it), and sprinkled in black sesame seeds. The pairing is just addicting.
But anyway, the tea. It’s a very fine tea, the kind of tea that, after the first steeping, falls away from the inside of your kyusu in one green glop. I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. Okay, it’s not pretty, but it smells wonderful.
At the first sip, I was honestly a bit shocked at the strength of the flavor compared to the lightness of the color. I am finding myself more and more drawn to that grassy, vegetable flavor in Japanese greens, and this has plenty of it.
In my (limited) experience, the second steeping of teas like this holds more flavor than the first. I got all excited as I poured water for the second pot into my kyusu and watched that green blob dissolve into a thick, green soup. The resulting tea was wonderfully cloudy, and held just a bit of astringency with even more of that rich vegetable-soup flavor. No, at that point it was a little less vegetable-y and more…meaty, almost. Wonders never cease; I’ll never understand how a leaf and a bone broth can taste so similar.
My taste in Japanese greens isn’t terribly refined, I’m afraid. Still feeling under the weather and lacking in a sense of smell, this is something else I’ll have to try again later and see how it compares.
I first got a taste of this while trying out several signature blends that others had assembled on Adagio’s site. I found myself drawn most to the ones that contained Mambo, and decided to try it straight. I was in love.
This was my staple morning tea for a long, long time. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor every morning before work, taking a few moments to enjoy this tea and paint some watercolor splotches on cheap pieces of copy paper that were destined to be folded into little paper birds (I was too cheap to buy pre-printed paper, and well, it was more fun this way).
Something about this tea made it positively invigorating. A blend of black and dark oolong teas (Adagio’s Yunnan jig and wuyi ensemble), it seemed to hold the best of both worlds— cocoa-y, fruity, yet somehow very savory, a rich and full mouthfeel that never failed to wake me up.
Drinking this every morning sadly wasn’t as affordable after a while, and I went to just drinking the Yunnan jig (funny how I started out with blends and then narrow down to the ingredients I like most), which is nearly as good (and $10 a pound cheaper) but occasionally I’ll blend it with a little dark oolong to attempt to recreate that characteristic richness.
I keep forgetting how much I like this stuff.
It’s one of the two teas from Adagio that I ever adored enough to go out and buy a pound of (that, and it’s very inexpensive).
I don’t really see this as a Chai in my mind. I see it more as…a naturally flavored tea. It’s kind of in its own category. As a big fan of coconut, I really like the flavor in this, and while lemongrass isn’t something I would think to add to a black tea, it works very well.
I do have to use more leaf per cup than I do with most of my other teas. A lot more leaf. Like 2-3 times as much. But again, the stuff is so inexpensive ($19 a pound) that it hardly matters.
A lot of people suggest trying this with coconut milk or heavy cream. I have tried these, and found them just a bit much for me. To me, the flavors of those heavier creamers overpower the flavor of the tea just a bit. A splash of plain 2% milk is just perfect for me.
One thing I haven’t done yet is tried this iced. That’s pretty high on my to-do list when warmer weather comes around.
This is probably a completely inaccurate rating, as I am pretty sick right now and can barely taste anything. I’m not sure why I thought to brew up one of my higher-end teas while ill, but I did it anyway, and I may as well write about it.
This is my third time trying to brew this tea; I’ve been having quite a struggle with it. I’ve wanted to try gyokuro for a long time and considering, from what I hear, its picky-ness with brewing parameters, I figure I would start with something…economical.
Well, the first time I tried, I guess the water was too hot—incredible, puckering astringency that only got stronger. The second time I think it was too cool, and tasted like nearly nothing. This time I stuck with the cooler temperature (140-145), upped the leaf ratio to 1g/1oz, and forced myself, against all my past experiences, to let it steep for a full 90 seconds. I have an incredibly low tolerance for bitterness, and will often brew my sencha at a lower temp and for a shorter time than most people, so it was hard to make myself actually steep this as long as I did, but it was worth a shot.
The resulting first cup was interesting— it was mostly smooth and mellow and, I think “brothy” is the word most tea-snobs use. But it was flecked with these “spots” it seemed, of sharp astringency that was just a little offputting, but interesting. I kind of want to attribute this to the many bits of leaves that passed through the strainer, but no idea if that was really the case. It felt wonderful going down though, even if I couldn’t taste it very well. Kind of a chicken soup sort of feel.
The second infusion was even better— stronger in flavor and lacking those little sharp points of astringency (which again would make sense if the flecks of leaf were a cause, since most of them were washed out in the first steeping). By the third steeping it had mellowed out and I couldn’t taste much (but again, my nose feels like someone managed to cram an entire sock into it right now).
I forgot to mention I’m using my little 2oz green kyusu from Den’s Tea. It is the cutest little thing and gyokuro seems to be my best excuse to use it. Sometimes— I know this is probably the most uncultured and rude-sounding behavior in the tea world, but I can’t help myself— I enjoy sipping the tea straight from the tiny spout. Shhhh.
I actually ended up re-steeping this many, many more times, probably around 10-15. Weird as it sounds, that warm, grassy water went a long way in helping me feel better.
It’ll be interesting to duplicate these brewing parameters again when I’m feeling better and see if it’s actually any good. I’m a little skeptical of my own tastes right now, since I tried a bit of my boyfriend’s orange spice tea that had apparently been accidentally left steeping for half an hour, and thought it was pretty good. Which makes me think I should be using my temporary taste-loss as an opportunity to sip through all my cheap and/or stale tea that I need to clear out, instead of drinking higher-end stuff like this. But it’s hard to regret it; I really did enjoy this tea!