Recent Tasting Notes
From the queue
We went into town today to spend some gift certificates we got for Christmas on some new cutlery. I’ve been wanting this for when we moved into our house, because the cutlery that we had was all mismatched and lumped together out of at least five different sets. And I don’t know about the stuff that Husband had when we moved in together, but the stuff I had was almost all something I had inherited from my parents when moving away from home. I wanted cutlery that actually matched and that I had had from new. Cutlery doesn’t really wear out, so it doesn’t get replaced naturally unless you make the decision yourself to replace it. It took a little convincing of Husband, but eventually he conceeded my point. I think the last little stretch of convincing wasn’t actually me, but the fact that he saw for himself that it was a little annoying to not be able to set a table for six with matching things. It looks haphazard and like you’re not really making an effort.
Anyway, on our way there we passed a small shop that sold tea, coffee and fancy chocolate. It was actually because they had a sign outside saying they carried AC Perchs teas that we decided to go in and have a look. There were only six or seven ACP teas to choose from, though, and none of them particularly interesting, but they also had several ones of this brand. It’s completely new to me, but apparently it’s a Scandinavian company. The tea is sold in 100g packages which came in a very attractive-looking wooden caddy. I really like wood as a material, I find it very decorative. Even better, they had this one which is a single farm Chinese black from the Hubei province. I think we all know what I’m like with Chinese black, and an interestingly new-to-me one at that!
I dithered a bit, because it was 95kr for one, but in the end I succumbed to temptation, part of which was the tea itself and part of it being caddy-lust. I wanted that caddy. I wanted it!
Turns out, however, that the caddy was also untreated wood on the inside, which meant I wouldn’t be able to wash it when the leaves were used. I had hoped that it might be a metal or just a plastic container clad in wood, but alas. After a lot of thinking, weighing of options and considering the matter, I decided to just pour the tea in and find a different use for the caddy after it was gone, only to have to transfer it to a proper metal tin shortly after when it transpired that the lid didn’t actually seal properly anymore when it wasn’t held in place by the plastic wrapping.
So verdict on the caddy, highly attractive and equally as useless. Out with that, then. I can’t even use it for something else when I can’t put the lid on.
The tea itself seems to be a paradox. At the first sip, it’s suprisingly bitter. Not over-leafed-bitter. Not over-steeped-bitter. It’s bitter because it just is.
But it’s a Chinese black! I hear you protest. Those are never bitter!
I know! And it’s not just the bitterness. It gets worse.
In addition to this seemingly naturally occurring bitterness, it’s really a fairly light flavour. Oh, it’s pretty strong and full-bodied, yes, but it gives me a sort of light and springy-bouncy impression, the sort that is the exact opposite of bitter.
I’m not sure how this is possible. Mutually exclusive flavour profiles in equal measure. Paradox tea. Does that mean the whole tin is in danger of unmaking itself? I had better drink it fast, then.
It does bring to mind something I saw on the discussion boards, though, about how organic teas tended to be more bitter than ordinary teas because of uh… because of Reasons. I can’t even remember who said it either now. Look at me with my source material all in order. :p
As it cools more and I drink more, though, I discover something about that bitterness. The bitter pinch of it slowly fades and it becomes a sort of old wood-y, burnt toast-y kind of coal-y thing. It tastes old. Not old as in ‘these leaves must be several years old!’, but old as in the very concept of age.
At the first sip, with the paradoxical bitterness, I was a little disappointed, because I paid an arm and a leg for this and I had already been thwarted by the attractive-looking but totally useless caddy, but now that I’ve been nursing this cup for a while, I’ve decided that I actually really very much like it. It feels like it would be a good first aid tea. You know, the kind of tea you drink when everything seems to be against you and the world as such can go jump off a cliff. It’s much in the same family as life-giving tea.
I should be surprised if there wasn’t a second steep in this.
Indeed there is. The flavour profile is exactly the same as before, if a smidge milder, in the second steep. Very rarely have I come across teas where it was worth the effort to attempt a third steep when brewing them Western style, but this is one where I definitely feel like it’s worth it to at least give it a go.
It may have cost a small fortune and it may have come with a useless caddy, but I feel I am actually getting value for money with this. It’s a little out of my way to go back to that shop, but I want to try some of the other teas from NUET now, so I’ll probably do it. (I’ll just know not to expect anything from the caddy)