Most folks who’ll be reviewing this tea will probably do so from the perspective of evaluating Lao Shan tea as a whole. I love Lao Shan greens, and I’ve had so many different kinds, qualities, and seasons, so this one is more focused on what makes this Autumn picking unique from the others, appreciated for its own strengths.
The dry smell from the bag is undeniably of cocoa.. of cocao nibs in particular. That’s somethig I find to be consistant across all Lao Shan teas in recent memory. I wonder why I never noticed that in Qingdao? Probably because I was living there, so I never took the time to stick my face in the bags and smell and appreciate. Also- no chocolate in Qingdao[ :*-( ], so maybe I lost my context. Why chocolate? Probably has something to do with that distinctive beany Lao Shan taste.
Consulting my notes, I see that the steeped leaves have a “delicious smell.” Hmm, usually I write more, but what can you say to that? Must have kept me from writing anything else.
The taste is crisp, lively, and subtle. It is certainly sweet, and there is something in the flavor that is making it positively addictive. Maybe it is some light savory and salt acting as a gentle support- sweet cream butter. There is Lao Shan bean, but it is a quiet force playing nicely in the background, walking on light tip toe so as not to disturb the calm coziness of the scene. Reminds me in a way of a quiet parent who picks you up to takes you to bed after you’ve fallen asleep on the living room floor. You remember them, you know it happened (counted on it, in fact), but there was no disruption to your dreaming.
Something in the taste also reminds me of Japanese green teas that have been dusted with matcha. I have a feeling that this would appeal more to the sensibilities of a lover of Japanese greens, even though grassy astringency is not actually rearing it’s head… grassiness is there more as a scent infusing the whole brew with a smooth, full mouth-feeling. It is a perfect, airy feeling of grass that is also solidly earthbound, mixed together with cozy cream.
More than anything with this picking, I am swept off to a place.
It’s a misty seashore, early in the morning. The air is cool and wet and smells of autumn, but there is also an intense warmth and coziness. You are standing in your robe with slippers on, in your fuzziest robe and blanket, watching the scene from warm within your woody cabin. A solitary retreat on the North Shore (except in this fantasy, the heat is on perfectly!). A feeling of subtle quiet, thoughtfulness… I’ve drawn a little heart here in the corner of my notes.
Or it is evening on that same sea/lake-shore after a long, full day. There is a crackling fire, and there are waves in the background. The ocean and water is so strong in this one, but it is that feeling of place.. of waves against rock.. not of brine.
Looking back on the description of this tea’s taste, I’m surprsed I can love it so well. Usually, I want my Lao Shan teas to taste like Lao Shan! The bean, the butter, the soil. This one is so much more subtle.. so much more of the autumn.. but the result is so lovely. The place that this tea takes me to is so strong. It feels like one of those original places of my own self.
- -(Tasting notes over: mini-proclamation begins)— —
Hurray for all of these autumn pickings! Who knew that tea could be so giving? Those who kowtow blindly at the Altar of Spring to the exclusion of all other tastes need to stop obsessing over questions of SUPERIOR GRADE this and TRADITIONAL SOURCES PROCLAIM that. Just quiet down for a moment and use your own tongue to appreciate all that tea is trying to offer you. Discover your own preferences, but not before you open yourself to new possibilities and taste with your own self.
Listen to the tea, and appreciate. It’ll never let you down.