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.