Once again this spring, Teavivre sent a box of amazing samples to try! Thank you, Teavivre!
I have held off on a detailed review of this tea because Huang Shan Mao Feng is one of my favorites, and here is one that purports to be “nonpareil”. I wanted to try it while I could focus on the tea alone, with no food distracting from the flavor.
With food is actually how we usually serve Huang San Mao Feng. The first time I ever tried it, I sipped it by itself and thought it was very mild and was not going to be a good choice with our meal, but I served it anyway and was surprised to discover that it went beautifully with the meal. The tea seemed to change to suit the situation.
With this batch, I put the leaves in my hand as the water heated and I breathed on the leaves again and again, checking them for the light, wafting aroma. At first there was very little, but gradually I began to smell fresh spring plants, and then….smoke. Not like Lapsang smoke, but more like a beloved grandpa was smoking some fine, cherry pipe tobacco and left the room ten minutes ago. So I guess a sweet tobacco aroma is what I was getting.
The liquor is pale. The aroma is soft, but it is mostly the ghost of the scent of buttered steamed veggies and a hint of nuttiness. I did not pick up on any astringency, and though briskness was mentioned I didn’t get that either. There was a mineral flavor that is crisp and clean to me, and I believe that is what makes this tea pair well with food.
When the tea is alone, the mineral flavor serves as the front of the sip and gives way to the mild, fresh vegetable taste and nuttiness. When paired with food, the mineral flavor sweeps away the taste of the food, cleansing your palate and allowing you to taste the gentle freshness of this tea even with the richly seasoned food that is sold here as “Asian food” at the buffets. So while I agree that this one is palate cleansing, to me it seems to accomplish that task through the mineral freshness rather than what I think of as astringency.
The leaves are so pretty after steeping that I had to eat one before drinking the second steep! They look Ike tiny string beans in the basket. There is a bite to the leaf even after two sweepings, and a briskness is definitely present in the leaf itself.
I am most of the way through steep number two. This still has nice flavor. The memory of the leaf I ate is still with me, adding a little kick to this as I sip. This is a mild tea, like my other well loved Huang Shan Mao Fengs, but they present mild versions of delightful flavors that are some of the most desirable flavors of green tea.
Mild, buttered steamed veggies, nutty, soft, the barest hint of astringency if you look for it, and delicious.
Thank you, Teavivre!