I was very impressed with this surprising new green offered by Verdant Tea when I had my initial chance to try it at Verdant’s last tasting. I’ve now brewed it at home twice. The first time was last Saturday night around 9:00pm when I needed a tea fix with special and very specific parameters: something light and enlivening, but also calming and cleansing.
I had slept for most of the day due to sleeplessness the previous night and a brief illness that washed over me in the late afternoon and broke in the evening. My body was feeling pretty good after I ate something and then arranged to attend a social dance, as my body was indicating a need to move. The Jing Shan struck me as the most suitable tea I had for the circumstances.
I brewed it in the traditional Jingshan style indicated by the steeping notes that came with my purchase. Heated water to 175F, poured 6-7oz into my small glass serving pitcher, and sprinkled just under 1 tablespoon of leaves on top. Really fun and beautiful to watch these leaves dance! Many of them float vertically. I waited a minute or so and took in the very fine fragrance of this tea. Then I started pouring off the tea by stages into one of my 2oz drinking cups, holding back the leaves with a spoon. First cup was very light, crisp, and refreshing. Where the first cup was a suggestion of what the flavor would become, the second cup was its perfect assertion. It called for my full attention without any sharpness, but rather with a certain equanimity that compels one to listen closely. Sinking into this flavor there’s a pleasant sensation that the tea is offering some kind of compliment you can’t help but smile at. The best comparison I can draw to it is eating a ripe sugarsnap pea pod that you’ve pulled fresh off the plant. There is also a subtle quality of the ocean in this, which strikes me as giving it more kinship to a good gyokuro than to other Chinese green teas. I took my sweet time enjoying those first two cups, and by the time I came to the dregs with my third cup the strength of the tea (about 2oz of water steeping a tablespoon of leaves for 5+ minutes) was nearing the edge of my preferred intensity. Still plenty good, but not the ideal of that second cup. The Jingshan style steeping would have you just drink the tea straight out of the glass that the leaves are in, letting it grow stronger as you drink it. For my part, I found that I would’ve rather liked this tea to maintain the state of that second cup from beginning to end.
Which leads me to describe the second brewing of Jing Shan I made this afternoon, and enjoyed moments ago. This time I decided to follow the Jingshan style steeping method to a point, but try to capture a full 8 ounces of the tea in the ideal state I described above. So I poured the hot water in a glass tumbler and added the outlined tablespoon of Jing Shan on top, timing it to steep for two minutes. Then I poured the tea through a strainer into my serving pitcher. The results were indeed excellent, and quite close to what I desired to achieve. In this brewing I tasted more clearly the note of asparagus mentioned by others, and found it delectable. I think for future brewing I will experiment with steep time until I land directly on the quality of that perfect cup I had in the first brewing, trying 1.5 and 2.5 minutes to gain some perspective. On another note, I steeped the leaves from this brewing a second time in the same way that I’ve just described, and am happy to report that the result remained very good. The flavor didn’t diminish much. I’m sure this tea could deliver a nice third steeping as well, but I’ve yet to try. At some point I will need to try preparing this tea Gongfu style through multiple infusions in a gaiwan, just to get a more comprehensive sense of it’s profile. Perhaps I will post results of these future experiments at a later time.