I love CTG. I don’t know specifically why I adore them so, but I have a special place in my heart for them. Perhaps because Tony is so nice. Maybe because they have my favorite daily tea (their Keemun). Maybe it is because the hubby loves their sticky rice pu-erh so much that I know I can always get him to support a CTG order if I say we are running low on that tea. Or maybe it’s because, while they might not have a ton of teas, what they do offer is always quality and often quirky (oolong from New Zealand, anyone?) and that matches my tea personality well. Or perhaps it is because they have the only Silver Needle that I love enough to buy more than a sample of. For whatever the reason, I love CTG. So if they offer a tea that seems even remotely interesting to me, I’ll pick up a sample.
This is one of those teas that isn’t in my normal tea profile (not a big fan of Chinese greens) but since CTG offered it, I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m so happy I did. First off, the smell is delightful. I don’t know if I would have automatically said unripened mango, but after reading it on the tea card, yes, totally, that is what I smell. Because this smells sweet – a mild, sweet but not overly strong, fruit. There’s also a little note of chlorophyll to the smell while steeping, as well as a hint of not-quite-oceanic water during the pour. But the overwhelming notes are sweetness and something reminding me of chestnuts, which is weird because I’m not overly familiar with chestnuts, but that’s what pops in my head.
Sipping and wow. It’s nutty. A very clean, slightly sweet nut. I tend to like pecans when I go for nuts; this is sweet like a pecan but the taste is cleaner and smoother – again I want to say chestnut but am not familiar enough with that type of nut to say for sure that it is chestnut-y or just what my mind thinks chestnut should taste like.
The aftertaste is sweet. It does remind me of the unripened mango I used to get from Costco, but perhaps I am thinking that again because I read the tea description before drinking this. But it is sweet in a soft, thin, fruity way. If pushed to describe it as something other than firm mango, I’d probably go for a very thin orange blossom honey. I say thin because it doesn’t really coat the mouth in that thick, sugary way honey does.
Gosh, the more this cools the sweeter it gets. It’s pretty awesome. I almost feel like I’ve put sugar in this, that’s how sweet it is. There’s a tiny prickle on my tongue now, kind of that mineral/salt-ish aftertaste I tend to aways associate with Chinese greens (and is the reason I can’t really get behind Chinese greens), but this one doesn’t come across as too much or too strong. Instead, it’s just a little drying prickle that keeps the tea from being too sweet and cloying. Underneath the sweetness is a nice vegetal base note. Sweet, but in a swiss chard kind of way. It’s really nice.
Oh, and look at that: my cup is empty. When did that happen? I never enjoy Chinese greens that much. Or find them that sweet! Nutty, sure, but usually in a bitter nut kind of way, like those dark pecans that you know you shouldn’t eat but do anyway and then have to eat something else to clean that overly strong taste out of your mouth? But this is clean nutty, transitioning to sweet vegetal with a nutty chaser. It’s really good.
If this is considered an “everyday” Chinese green, I’ve sooooo been picking the wrong teas. Because if this is an everyday one, I can’t imagine how awesome a special one is.
A second steep (1 minute) results in a very similar cup with perhaps a bit more prickle. Or maybe that’s just because I couldn’t wait for it to cool any before sipping. As it cools, the prickle backs off to just a little tingle on my tongue post-swallow and the dominate notes are once again sweet and nutty. There seems to be a little nori or perhaps chlorophyll hanging out underneath, too. The sweet and nutty tastes are probably more balanced this time, compared to the first steep that was more on the sweet end.
And wow, now that cup is gone, too. How did that happen? How can I like a Chinese green this much? Darn you, CTG, for making me crave things that I never expected to want in my pantry!
(And holy monkeys, why can I not write a short tasting note????)