I am not very familiar with herbal tisanes. I usually just stick with a good Chinese tea. Today, I went to Sojourner’s Coffee and Tea and decided to have this tisane. The ginger is not overpowering, but it is the main flavor in the infusion. It makes a wonderfully refreshing iced infusion, very smooth and well-balanced compared to other ginger tisanes that I have tried. Teatulia may not yet know how to do teas just yet, but they sure have their herbal infusions down pat!
45 Tasting Notes
“The samples that you tried were sweetened with our German Rock Sugar. It is an unrefined sugar, different from other sugars because it does not interfere with the tea’s flavor, it just brightens it up. It only has 25 calories per teaspoon…” Yadddah, yaddah, yaddah. At this point, my conscience is telling me to SHUT UP and tell her that this is ten more calories that table sugar! But the salesperson in me stops me from telling this precious customer that she can save money by using the generic beat sugar from the grocery store and get the same result. She buys a pound of sugar. I move to show her another tea, but before I can grab another bin, she asks, “but how do I brew it?” The salesperson in me does a celebration dance as I lead her back to the cast iron display. She buys a large cast iron pot, four matching cups and coasters, and a set of tea accessories! The ticket turns out to be in the hundreds. Be still my beating heart… Should I celebrate my success? Should I run after her and tell her that I just ripped her off, and give her reason to return the items that she purchased? Should I tell her that this company is toying with her senses? Or should I just let her go and enjoy her products, and continue to celebrate the large ticket with my coworkers?
I give her the sample, and I tell her it is more for the kids because it is heavily sweetened and caffeine free. I’m not supposed to tell her this, but this is the cheapest sample that we offer, and if she decides to buy it, it will drop the number on my sale from her. Lucky for me, she buys into it. I ask her what her favorite sample is, and she says that it is the Youthberry/Wild Orange blend. I tell her that I will meet her on the other side of the counter.
I move quickly here. Leaving a customer waiting is like leaving a fishing pole unattended. I grab the two tea bins and set them in front of the counter for her. I romanticize the heck out of them, making them seem even more enticing and worthy of her money. I do not tell her to look at the high fruit-to-tea ratio in the Youthberry, nor do I point out the prominent presence of cheap apple pieces in the Wild Orange Blossom tisane. I especially do not tell her that all of the dried fruits have been sucked dry of health benefits when they were dried. Dare I mention the fact that these teas do not smell anything like REAL oranges or berries? Should I confide in her that I suspect Teavana of using artificial flavors in their teas (the company only claims not to use artificial colors, and the ingredients list of 90% of the teas indicate the use of “flavoring,” not saying whether it is artificial or natural), and that all she smells is an illusion? No, the salesperson in me really really really wants to make a BIG sale at this point, so I am easily able to ignore my qualms. I talk about the POUND discount. She buys into it and buys a half pound of each. I’m not done here, though, the sale could be bigger. I mention one more thing to her, trying to squeeze every last penny out of her pocket…
We are getting closer to the tea counter. I am more and more excited about this customer, it seems like she’ll make a big purchase. Good for me! I take the sample cup from the fish-customer and put a little bit of this sample into it. As I hand it to her, I tell her about the supposed health benefits: EGCG complex (which I cannot tell her about, since we are forbidden to talk about cancer), can maintain healthy blood sugar levels (of course I don’t tell her that white tea and greener oolongs can also do this), and it’s good for the immune system (again, I do not tell her that all teas can be good for different aspects of immunity, according to studies. After all, this could possibly lower the size of the ticket!). My conscience begins to feel sorry for this customer. I should just tell her to find a tea shop that sells tea that is of a truly high quality and that is justly produced. But no, the salesperson in me gets savvy and says, “this is your job, you do not want to lose it!” So I monitor her reaction to this tea. She loves it! Getting more and more excited, I quickly guide her through a tasting of the sixth and final sample, so we can get her to the tea counter.
“Have you ever seen a blooming tea before?” I ask my fish-customer. “No, well have a taste, and let me show you how it works.” I pour her a sample of this peach concoction, show her how the hand-tied seed unravels into an elegant blossom of tea and petals when it is introduced to hot water. The salesperson in me thrives on her expression of awe, looking inwardly at the big price that this tea will add to the ticket if she decides to buy it. My conscience sees a whole different picture: jars and jars of these seeds, how did they come to be? Were they hand tied by a factory worker in China? What do her hands look like? Are they blistered and chapped from touching that dry, sharp string all day? Is she being compensated, or is her time being robbed from her, going home every night with not even enough to provide food and shelter for her family? I cannot see any way that these seeds could be produced in a just way, at such high quantities. However, I cannot share these musings with her because the salesperson in me is getting more and more excited about making the sale. At this point, I decide to skip showing her other brewing options, because she is more excited about the tea itself. I lead her farther into this illusion of tea, this labyrinth in which the ultimate end is a greedy corporation. Next destination: FetCo 3.
Fish do not understand choices. If you put six different kinds of bait in front of them, they will take the one that is closest to their nose, even if the farther one is of a higher quality. Humans are different in this respect. When they are given choices, they are able to deliberate and choose the option that they think is best for them. This is the difference between how a fisherman treats fish and how a Heaven of Tea salesperson treats her customers. Still, tea sales in the mall is much like fishing. Drop a line and hope for the best. The difference is to offer options to play with the customer instead of having the one piece of bait dance around for the fish.
With this in mind, I give my fish-customer another option. “The best way to brew tea, of course, is in the cast iron. It’s just like with cooking, it distributes heat throughout the pot, extracting the best flavor and the most health benefits. They’re easy to use with their built-in strainer, and they don’t break!” As I gesture to show her our three elaborate cast iron displays, my mind is torn. The salesperson-demon in me watches her every expression, trying to figure out if she is interested in purchasing the crowned jewel of all sales at this store. The angel-conscience in me wants to tell her the cons of cast iron brewing: the enamel chips of with the gentlest ding, they rust easily if they are not properly cared for (I am driven to show her the rust on our display pot), and they require a ridiculous amount of tea leaves to make a pot of tea, considering their size. I also want to tell her that they are touched by seventeen people when they are made. Seventeen?! Are you kidding me? That’s enough to make an assembly line out of what we are supposed to call a “work of art.” Talk about dehumanizing a process to make something beautiful. Before I can decide what to do, the salesperson in me realizes that this fish-customer is not interested in, nor can she afford, this jewel. I quickly move her on to another option.
“We’re sampling a really rare oolong tea just inside if you want to try it…”
The fish-customer perks up at the words “really rare,” and before she knows any better, she follows me into the store. My excitement heightens. I know that the further I get her into this labyrinth of half-truths and illusions, the more lost she will become, and the more willing she will be to hand over a larger and larger sum of dough.
“So, this is one of the best teas we offer.” I am choosing my words more carefully, since my conscience is getting to me. I could have said that this the rarest tea in the world, just like my coworkers. But my experience knows better. I have done the math. I know full well that a tea that fills 500 jars with a capacity for about six pounds of this tea throughout the nation hardly constitutes it as rare.
I confirm her taste buds and tell her about the heavy body and floral notes. I do not tell her that the quality is mediocre at best, especially compared to other monkey picked oolongs that are available at more than half the price. No, the salesperson in me conceals this truth and leads the fish-customer into the mystique that the company creates for her. I especially do not tell her what I taste: the blood and sweat of the producer of this tea, subtle yet present, the effort that was not compensated for, causing the starvation of her and her children, the injustice of it all.
But no, the salesperson in me tells me not to think on this. It is fun to play with the catch before making the kill. A bit more fun? Why yes, there is a cast iron pot sitting right there, why don’t I tell her about it?
“Do you like chai?” I ask the fish-customer as she hands me her sample cup. I don’t even wait for her enthusiastic “YES!” before I start to fill the cup with the chai blend. Again, I remind her of the unfounded health benefits that we claim for white tea, and I also tell her about the benefits of mate. I notice her desirous reaction to the words “appetite suppression” and I make a mental note to emphasize this quality as I lead her to the rare tea sample.
Again, my conscience kicks in. Should I tell her that studies have shown that mate may cause cancer? After all, she deserves to hear the pros and cons together, so that she can make a truly educated decision. But no, my hunger for that big ticket leads me closer to the kill.
I spot a potential customer. She walks by, not seeing my well-concealed hunger for a hefty sale from her. I draw the blinds on the windows to my soul with as sincere a smile as I can muster. As my hands raise my tea tray to her eye level, my amicable mask annunciates the words, “Come try some tea!” Will she take the bait? The five seconds of suspense bring my heart beating up to my throat.
She finally responds with a hesitant, “Sure…” My heart races as she reaches for the sample cup that lures her in my direction. Her eyes are on the tea, not on my hungry eyes. Thank heaven for the lure that disguises this evildoer’s true intentions.
“Let me get you a fresh sample,” I say as I quickly snatch the tray out of her grasp and set it on the sample cart. This move is like playing with a fish. Make the bait look alive. Bring her in with some conversation. As I pour her a “fresh” sample that has actually been sitting stagnant in the FetCo all day, I tell her about the unfounded health benefits of white tea: antioxidants, good for skin and complexion, promotes hydration and detoxification. She only slightly reacts to these trigger words that society and media have conditioned her to respond to.
No, she is focusing on the sensory appeal of the tea. Fish do not care about the health benefits of the bait. They just want something that smells good and tastes good. She interrupts my sales pitches with the usual remarks, “it smells amazing,” “wow, this tastes wonderful,” to which I hide my annoyance and nod my head with a twitch of the mouth.
During my sales pitch, my conscience sometimes kicks in. Does she know that the sugar in the tea has ten more calories per teaspoon than regular sugar? I am misleading her to think that it is only this tea promotes these benefits, when I know full well that most, if not all, teas can do the same thing. I also know that the “white tea” that we are claiming is low in caffeine and high in antioxidants is not the same white tea that studies have shown to be high in antioxidants. Furthermore, I know that white tea is not necessarily low in caffeine like we are led to believe. My heart begins to ache at the illusion that I am beginning to paint in this customer’s mind. “Not now,” the salesperson in my head tells me. “Save it for the other teas, like corporate tells you to do. It’ll make you sell better.” This puts my conscience to rest, and I am able to focus on the big, fat sale that I will make on the other end of the counter as I lead her to try the next sample.
First of all, thanks so much to Bonnie for greeting me with this sample, as well as a host of other samples, when we met at the Rocky Mountain Tea Festival!
I have been super busy lately, and I have not had time to review, let alone taste, any new teas for quite some time now. Today, I finally have a wealth of free time, and what better way to use it than drinking and writing about a tea from one of my favorite tea companies :)
Bonnie gave me quite a generous sample of this tea, enough for two pots, but I decided to chuck the entire sample into my little 100mL gaiwan and put it to the ultimate gongfu test. I put the water on the stove, put the leaves into the vessel, and waited for the crab eyes to start blinking at me from the bottom of the pan. When the crab eyes caught my attention, I drenched the leaves, stirred them up a bit, and took a whiff…
It smelled like green tea. There was nothing white about it. It was beany, vegetal, and earthy. The first sip confirmed my nasal sense. It tasted just like a high quality, everyday-type green tea. This is not to say that it was not delicious. It just tasted nothing like a white tea. The second steep mellowed out the balance of tannin and sweetness. Once, again, it was very delicious. The third steep was even more mellow, with a lighter body, but still nothing white about it.
This Laoshan green tea that may have been processed as a white tea is very good indeed. It upheld its freshness very well. Every steep tells a different story, or at least chapters of the same story. Maybe I will tell the story some day. It will be a story of how there is absolutely no agreement in the tea business on what a white tea should be. Every company seems to have a different definition, and these discrepancies are enabling them to produce a wealth of different flavors, looks and aromas — essentially, different teas that all parade under the name of “white.” With all these variances, I’m becoming more and more confused. If you’re reading this, maybe you could tell me: how do YOU define what a white tea is? Do you simply submit to what every company tells you, even if their white tea tastes completely green, or even almost black (as Teatulia’s white tea tastes)? Or do you, as I do, feel the need for a little more formality in the definition of “white” tea?
Flat. One-dimensional. There are only hints of what a good black tea should be.
I really want to believe in this company because of the good that they do in Bangladesh, but this is the second tea of theirs that I have tried that is lackluster and bland. Everything is right about this company except for the quality of the tea itself, save for their loose leaf white tea. Luckily, quality is a variable that can change with even slight alterations in the process. I really hope that Teatulia continues to grow in this aspect.
I’m confused. Delighted to the utmost extent, but confused nonetheless. I taste black tea maltiness, white tea fruitiness/mustiness, green tea nuttiness, and anxi oolong sweetness. Sounds amazing, right? But all of this in one cup? It makes my head spin. I think I will use this tasting note to sort out the chaos that this tea has caused in my mind and senses.
First things first. The appearance, aroma, taste, and mouthfeel resemble nothing close to a Fujian white tea made from the Da Bai Hao cultivar (many tea fanatics, myself included, believe that this is the only “true” white tea). The needles are shorter, grayer, and do not have the same mushroom smell. The brew is much darker than the pale yellow of a Fujian Bai Hao Yin Zhen brew.
And the taste? OMG, the TASTE!!! There are hints of oxidation: fresh bread, malty flavor, all indicative of a black tea. A certain saltiness tickles my taste buds, which is what Fujian white teas do. I get a hint of jasmine and umami, all of which are usually present in the highest quality oolong teas. There is even a shade of the nuttiness that characterizes a Long Jing. How on earth can a cup of tea incorporate all of the best qualities of every type of tea into itself? My mind. It’s experiencing growing pains again.
One thing is for sure. I cannot call this a white tea, not just because of the “fujian da bai hao” bunk that I believe in, but because of its inherent character. It is truly a unique tea that deserves its own category. It should be called… I don’t know… a royaltea?
Who would have known that Bangladesh would become a place that produces a high quality tea? Talk about “finding a priceless pearl in the poor.” I’m not just talking about the tea here. Teatulia is doing some amazing work on this 2,000-acre part of the world to create an infrastructure of community, equity, and sustainability. More information about this can be found on Teatulia’s website. They are really creating a goldmine in a land of rubbish, and I really hope that Teatulia’s efforts will positively affect everyone who comes in contact with the company. If they continuously produce a product of such exquisite quality as their loose leaf White Tea, and translate this quality to every product that they offer, then they will have no problem doing so.
I’m sitting at a coffee shop in Denver that I recently discovered. The ambiance is nice, and the coffee is great. Today, I decided to check out their tea menu. They had a modest offering of teas from Teatulia and the Tea Spot. I decided to try this green tea, and I was not expecting much. I opened the pot for a sight and a smell. Just as I expected, the leaves were all broken. They literally looked like the sweepings off of the table after the real tea had been processed.
The flavor of the tea was virtually the same as Celestial Seasonings’ Authentic green tea. It was highly processed to the point where the flavor was flat, leaving no trace of the good things that I associate with green tea. There was no nuttiness, vegetable, sweetness, or anything of the sort. Even astringency would not grace this cup with its undesirable presence. It does not deserve to be a loose leaf tea. It would have been much better off in a bag like its equals. That said, I am very grateful to have this cup of tea right now, and the space that I am drinking it in is very relaxed. I’m in a good mood right now.
Much thanks to David and Verdant Tea for this sample.
I have tried one other Huang Zhi Xiang Dan Cong, and it was from Seven Cups. Lately, my view of good teas has been coming from this company, but Verdant constantly challenges me to question my current perceptions that Seven Cups has created for me.
Usually, I like the Verdant offerings not as better teas (tieguanyins are an exception), but just in a different way. It is the same here.
When I think of a Huang Zhi Xiang (also known as Yellow Sprig) wulong, I think bright, bright, bright, medium body, EXTREMELY fruity, with just enough tannin to add a nice punch in the aftertaste. This Yellow Sprig wulong is much smoother than what I am used to. There is also a lot less dominance of some flavors over others. In other words the flavors are more balanced and a little shy. This is not the “in your face” Dan Cong that I am used to, not only from Seven Cups, but also from other tea companies like Ku Cha. Its flavors are balanced with a medium roast (especially in the first few steepings), mellowed out passion fruit and mango (becoming more and more prominent in later steepings), and even a hint of mushroom and asparagus.
I am very surprised at the complexity of this Dan Cong Wulong tea. I am a bit disappointed that it is not more fruity, but this is only because my other favorite Yellow Sprig wulong is so fruity, it might as well be juice. I am also disappointed that the flavor is not so strong, since I have come to expect strong, “in your face,” flavors from a Dan Cong wulong.
Personal disappointments and expectations aside, this is a wonderful when seen apart from everything else. The relatively whole leaves and lack of bitterness indicate a master of the craft of making a good wulong tea. The aroma and balance of flavors are simply amazing. I definitely look forward to trying out other Dan Cong Wulongs from Verdant Tea.
When I first see the picture of this tea, I am suspicious of the dark green color of the leaves. This usually means a late harvest time that will yield a bitter, unpleasant brew. Still, I want to give Verdant green tea a chance, so I add this one to my cart, which already has the Autumn 2011 and Spring 2012 tieguanyins.
When I receive the bag, I let it sit on my shelf, expecting nothing special. During the tea’s quarantine, I decide to e-mail David and ask about its harvest time and picking standard. He tells me that it was handpicked during the autumn. This response enhances my suspicions about the quality of this tea. I have never heard of an autumn-picked green tea. The best green teas I have tried are picked within a two-week period between March and April.
When I finally get around to opening the bag, the tea leaves greet me with strong, sweet, vegetable aromas. I spoon about a tablespoon into a wine glass. I am surprised to see that the leaves are very long, longer than a standard dragonwell green tea. I pour 180 degree water over the leaves, which immediately release a strong vegetal aroma that is extremely pleasant. I take my first sip. My palate is greeted with a nice, medium-light body. The flavors astound me. I get notes of lightly steamed broccoli and peas, maybe a bit of cooked cabbage. Very nice. I let the leaves steep a little longer, maybe five minutes or so. I blow the leaves away and take another couple of sips. The flavors get stronger. I notice other notes, kind of like unripe mango or melon, just without the sourness. There is no hint of bitterness. Okay, David, what are you playing at? A green tea, harvested in autumn, steeping for ten, twenty minutes, and not even getting bitter? My entire perception of what goes into a good green tea is completely turned up-side-down.
Now for the second steep. Will it retain its flavor? I am pleased to notice a very high ratio of whole leaves to broken leaves, about 90% plus. This shows me the intense care that goes into the processing of this tea. Another testament to the strict attention to the wholeness of the leaves is that the brew shows absolutely no sign of cloudiness. It glows with a brilliance that I rarely see, even in a good green tea. The flavor is still there in the second steep. The balance between sweet and savory is enhanced, if not entirely different, from the first steeping. There is still no sign of bitterness.
David has confirmed many of my perceptions of what goes into a good green tea. The leaves should be whole. The brew should never go bitter. It should also have a clear brilliance to it. However, some of my perceptions have been trumped. A good green tea can be picked in the autumn, not just early spring. It can be dark green and still yield a wonderful flavor.
I have tasted scores of green teas since the inception of my tea obsession almost three years ago. I hold this Dragonwell-style Laoshan green in my top five, up there with Seven Cups’ Meng Ding Sweet Dew and Shi Feng Long Jing. It is by far one of the best green teas out there. You should buy it now before the demand causes the prices to go up!
I am very busy lately, and a total of two days pass until I am able to get back to this pot of exquisite tea.
Steepings 6 through 10, 2 to 8 minutes. The flavors have digressed significantly over the two days, probably because I am stupid enough to leave wet leaves out for so long. Nonetheless, I still get flavors of melon and sweet vegetables, and not even the slightest hint of bitterness. I am immensely pleased with this tea experience, and as soon as I get my next paycheck, I will be placing my next, bigger, order with Verdant.
So what’s all the hype about Verdant’s tieguanyins? I have been asking myself this question since I first joined steepster. Finally, I broke down and ordered an ounce of this tea just before it sold out.
I open the bag at home. Subtle scents of orchid and plumeria greet my nostrils. As my 5oz yixing pot heats up, I spoon my 5g of tea into a lotus plate. I see deep green, loosely rolled pearls. This sight tells me that the tea was lightly oxidized and lightly baked, indicative of a modern Anxi-style tieguanyin. My yixing is hot, so I dump out the water, add the leaves, shake the pot thrice, and enjoy the aroma once more. Once again, I smell tropical flowers, but the warmed leaves release a much heavier scent.
First steeping: 30seconds, longer than what David recommends, but I want to give the leaves an opportunity to open up a bit. No scent greets my nostrils with this brew. I become quite skeptical. Why do people on steepster rave about a tea with no aroma. I take my first three sips, and I suddenly understand. Candied honeydew melon and sugar snap peas. A lingering aftertaste of saffron. Thick, rich, buttery mouthfeel like I’ve never experienced it before. The color of the brew is a glowing yellowish green.
Second thru fourth steepings, 5 seconds. The sweetness of the honeydew dominates, but the sugarsnap pea has not left completely. A fine balance of sweetness and umami. The saffron aftertaste is still there and getting stronger. The buttery texture leaves in the second steeping, but returns full force by the fourth steeping. This is an outstanding tieguanyin. I’m beginning to wonder if David mistakenly replaced my order with his personal store of award-winning gold. Could it be?
Fifth steeping, 10 seconds. More butter, more melon, and candied peaches. Mushrooms with exotic spices. This tea is changing the way that I think about tieguanyin. Flowery? Yes. I would expect that. But I don’t expect the lingering aftertaste, the smooth, heavy body, the durability to last for five full-flavored steepings under 10 seconds. I am almost nearly convinced that David accidentally mismatched my order with some competition winning tieguanyin that was meant to be sold for $20,000 for 100g.
I know that this tea can give me more steepings, but I am currently unable to do more. I must take a break. I will log my appreciation of more steepings on another note.
Thank you David Deckler, you have won yet another loyal customer.
This is a very light and delicate green tea, almost too delicate for my liking. I get almost no flavor from brewing it Western-style. When I brew it in a gaiwan (3-4g in 150mL of 180 degree water), I get a fragrant, nutty brew that that endures three flavorful steepings. Maybe it’s just this year’s harvest (2011), because I have tried previous years, and they are much more flavorful.
So one morning, I think,“Hmmm…” I don’t know what to try! Green tea doesn’t sound good, and I’m not in the mood to pull out my gongfu ware for a rock oolong. What, oh what, should I have this morning?"
I go to my tea shelf and sort through all my teas. My eyes see this Golden Peacock black, and I think to myself, “Yes, that’s the ticket!” So I get my 16oz kyusu pot (large, I know) and, while waiting for the water to boil, put a generous dose of two tablespoons into the pot. A couple minutes later, I add the water, cover the pot, and…… well….. I completely forget about it. Heaven forbid that that this should happen with such an expensive tea ($12 for 50g, considering I used 2 generous tablespoons, really adds up)!
Three hours later, I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my roommate when I realize my mistake. I utter a few choice four-letter words, explain my mistake to the roommie, and rush to pour out the brew, praying to the guanyin that it is not totally ruined. From behind me, I hear my roommate say, “I’ll try a sip of that.” So, I pour myself a cup, and then I pour a spot for my roommie to try, warily handing the cup to him. I watch him take a sip. To my surprise, he says, “This is really good tea!” I take a sip for myself. I am totally astounded! Yes, the flavor is strong. No, there is no hint of bitterness. My mouth is bombarded with flavors of malt, rye bread, umami mushrooms, and even roasted peaches. Praise the guanyin (or rather, praise the masterful producers who grew and processed these leaves), the tea is delicious!
So after I finish this delightful brew, do I throw out the leaves, thinking that they have given their all? Heavens, no! I fill up my water kettle, let it boil, and pray for another flavorful brew. I give this steep a good ten minutes, pour out the brew, and take a sip, expecting nothing special. What do you know, there’s actually flavor!!! And not just flavor: sweet fried yams with caramelized sugar, vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon. Good Lord, talk about a durable tea!
The next day, I have another brew. Fifteen minutes this time. I am blessed with yet another cup full of peaches, honey, and malty chocolate. I decide to save the leaves for one more brew(three hours again), which I am enjoying right now. As I write this, I am in a true state of tea-vana, enjoying the fourth steeping of this amazingly resilient and flavorful tea, amazed that people have the power to create such an amazing work of art and pleasure.
Should I go for one more steeping?
The dry leaves sitting in my gaiwan are all white buds, covered with white, downy hairs. I am disappointed to notice that the tea is not quite as strikingly white as other Bai Hao Yin Zhen that I have seen.
The first brew yields a sweet, complex aroma that reminds me of freshly boiled pumpkin. The mouth feel is heavy bodied, and the flavor is like butternut squash and fresh walnuts. The second steeping reveals an apple-like sweetness, and the body becomes lighter. Unfortunately, there is a hint of bitterness to this brew.
The wet leaves reveal mostly whole buds, with a fair number (about 25%) of broken leaves.
The third steeping retains its sweetness and loses its astringency. The fourth steeping has a nice umami flavor. Sadly, I’m all tea’d out after this, so I am unable to do more.
I had this tea during my second visit to the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House. I asked the bartender to see the leaves before I committed to drinking the tea. They looked like a good quality dragonwell tea: flat, pressed leaves and buds in the shape of bookmarks, with a slightly yellowish hew to the dominating green color.
The bartender obliged to serve me the tea with the leaves floating loosely in a tall, clear wine glass. This is my favorite way to drink a good quality tea. Of course, since this tea is part of their prized “Phoenix Collection,” I assumed that this tea was of good quality. As I let the tea steep, I noticed a fair number of broken leaves, but a good number of whole leaves graced the cup as well. I took my first sip. It was delightfully sweet, reminiscent of honeydew melon with undertones of roasted chestnut.
As with all good quality green teas, I let this tea sit in its brew for the duration of the time it took me to drink it. To my delight, there was only the slightest hint of bitterness. With the number of broken leaves, I expected it to get a bit more astringent. Of course, the flavor got stronger, and it began to remind me of roasted chicken with sage. Upon finishing the first steep, I realized that I had a pleasant tea drunk, which is something that I only get with good quality tea.
The second steeping looked cloudy. Could this be indicative of poor processing, handling, or transport? I’ll have to look into it. The taste was still yielding notes of roasted herb chicken. The third steeping tasted like seaweed salad, a very pleasant surprise!
Finally, after finishing my third cup, I looked at the wet leaves. I ignored the broken and focused on the whole leaves. They revealed a plucking standard of one bud to two tender leaves, which is typical of a dragonwell style tea.
Overall, this is a great tea. It hardly gets bitter, and can last for several steepings. It can easily be appreciated by the connoisseur and the beginner alike.
This green tea is part of the tea houses exclusive “Phoenix Collection,” a variety of their most exclusive and rarest teas. Of course, a tea that is marketed as such a fine product should be judged accordingly. Thus, the leaves should be whole, the taste should never go bitter, and it should have a quality of aroma and taste that sets it apart from the so-called everyday green tea.
Unfortunately, this tea did not hit any of those marks. I decided to take this tea with the loose leaves in a tall, clear glass, just like I do with every supposedly good green tea that I tried. After watching the leaves steep, I noticed that there were only about 35% whole leaves in the brew. This was not boding well for its supposed quality. The first taste was very pleasant, nutty and sweet, but not quite outstanding enough to set it apart from other, cheaper, whole leaf green teas that I have tried. After I let the brew sit for a while, it became increasingly bitter, almost to the point where it was not drinkable. I decided to go for a second steeping, and this was better, but there was only about half the flavor of the first brew. For those reading this who don’t know about good quality green teas: they should be able to yield at least three full-flavor steepings, even if they’ve been sitting in the cup for extended periods of time.
I’m sorry that I have to give this tea such a negative review because I do love the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House, and I have thoroughly enjoyed other teas of theirs, but the marketing and the quality do not add up.
My experience with the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House has been quite good over the past two weeks. The first time that I came here, I tried this tea. I hoped that it might be served yixing style, or at least in a gaiwan, but the bartender explained that there was not enough interest in that sort of tea experience. Oh well. Sad day for me.
I received a small pot of the competition grade monkey picked and steeped it for the recommended three minutes. The brew was a pale yellow green, with a delicate, yet complex, mushroomy aroma. The first sip sent my heart racing. It was the heaviest bodied tea that I have ever tried, yielding notes of buttered oat bread, roasted vegetables, and a hint of spring fruit flowers. The second steeping was by far better. The flavors balanced out even more, and the heaviness let up a bit. As was expected, the third steeping was the best. The floral and fruity notes were the star of this brew, but the umami flavors were still present. There was no hint of bitterness throughout this tea experience. My only complaint was the brewing method. The little strainer in the pot did not allow the leaves to open up properly. I am afraid that this might have robbed me of the fullest flavor. Because of this, I have taken home an ounce of this tea to brew in my 5oz yixing pot. I will add more notes as soon as I do this.