Steepster ate my entire lengthy note this time, so I’m going to be (relatively) brief.

I see a lot of people in other reviews calling this tea poisonously intense, complaining about the overpowering sweetness of the jasmine, and I’m left to wonder – have you people ever been to a chinese restaurant? This tea is comfort food, nostalgia in a cup, the best thing on a rainy day. If you brew it long with boiling water, it tastes exactly like the jasmine tea you’ll be served in a searing-hot steel teapot at a chinese restaurant, with those little white ceramic cups and the black plastic handle. I grew up with chinese restaurants as a mainstay, and this tea, when tortured in that manner, is spot on for that flavor. Jasmine green isn’t just another flavored green tea, but a category all to itself, in a way.

Today, I decided to go gentler, and use 180F water and a more moderated steeping time, to see what I could bring out of the leaf when not scorching it. The difference would be shocking if I hadn’t come to know just how much a difference temperature and steep time can make – it’s almost a completely different tea. The jasmine becomes delicate and complex, with a blooming range of flavors both floral and sweet unfurling over your palate through the aftertaste – not a sugar sweet, more of a subtle umami sweet. The green tea, usually burned to an indistinguishable base “tea” flavor, comes through with the grassy, vegetal notes one would expect of a green, without lending too much astringency. It’s still too hot for an optimal green tea steep, but for a jasmine it’s the perfect balance this way. I also find that it has body in a way most teas don’t, an odd but very enjoyable thicker mouthfeel. As jasmine teas have the actual jasmine leaf removed prior to packing, I’m not entirely sure what is behind it, but it’s distinctly fuller-bodied than most teas (though nowhere near a pu-erh).

I absolutely love this specific jasmine, because it’s two teas in one. If you wreck it with boiling water and a long steep, you get an absolute dead ringer for “chinese restaurant tea”, and if you are a bit more gentle as I was today, you get a complex, full-bodied blend of grassy, floral, sweet and umami flavors far beyond what one expects at the $6.50/4oz pricetag. Being so cheap, you won’t feel bad scorching it for nostalgia, and it’s a steal as a properly-brewed fancy tea.

If you’re somehow not familiar with “chinese restaurant tea”, and are coming at this as a fan of flavored green teas, I can see it perhaps being offputtingly intense and unusual – but if you know what I mean when I talk of the searing hot steel teapots at a chinese restaurant, little white cups of floral golden liquor, oversteeped and scorched but somehow just right… you know if you want this or not.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Her Highness Rozen Maiden No.5, Shinku, is my tea-soulmate.

I am a tea nerd. I only brew looseleaf, I keep an instant read thermometer with my stash and never, ever brew a cup without getting the water temperature I want first. I can’t stop buying teas that capture my heart, even if I have more than I could ever finish before they go stale – though I do my best to keep delicate ones sealed until I’m ready to dig in.

I rate things on a different scale than I think most people do. For me, 50 is not a bad grade, 50 is take it or leave it, I probably wouldn’t turn it down but I wouldn’t ask for it. 50 is indifference, sub-50 is dislike.

Also, I live near Lupicia SF, and can get there and back in the span of my lunch break. I’m jealous of myself.

I like just about everything, but my true loves are shincha, gyokuro, pu-erh, and lapsang souchong. Grass clippings, dirt, and campfires, mmm mm.

What I won’t touch is blasphemous grossness like candy-flavored rooibos, fruit-and-vanilla white teas, etc. – don’t even get me started.


SF Bay Area

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