A couple months ago, the Peony Tea S. very kindly sent me three teas of theirs, in exchange for answering a few of their questions regarding shipping times and conditions. All teas arrived promptly and in excellent condition and were all of such obvious quality I have been reserving first sip of them for occasions I could give brewing this their due attention! And reviewing them is slightly intimidating as well, my vocabulary feels stretched.
A warning first: I think I used not enough tea on this first brew. I went by teaspoon count and should have gotten out the digital scales, I think going by what I have left I did not use the 2 grams per 100 ml recommended, I was too careful of not breaking the tea and spoons counted were not filled enough. So my judgement of this today is not optimal. But I am sure I will forget this advice if I don´t write it down so here goes, the first preliminary tasting. Don´t skimp on the recommended weight. I used my favorite mineral water, it´s light on minerals.
The dry tea is absolutely beautiful, long vivid green little pods of leaves curled upon other little leave buds. The scent is absolutely fantastic, a wonderful green tea (duh. duh. I said I was challenged by trying to review this) scent which reminded me of spring in some cliffs right by the Atlantic in Portugal (Arrábida mountains, if you really want to know) – a scent very clean and free, maybe with hints of thyme or this type of rosemary or cypress.
1st steep – brewed up, while the scent notes change a lot and the thyme-rosemary notes go away, I get a sea note. It was slightly astringent and slightly sweet and very lovely. It brewed up very pale gold. Ethereal, the adjective used by the seller´s description, is a totally perfect description of this. This was my favorite steep (is this a sign I screwed up the next steeps?
2st steep – this brewed up quite a bit richer. Color deeper, with a slightly green tinge, and at the same time more astringent and sweeter and the sea note even more pronounced. Theoretically it should have been superior in everything to the 1st steep, but I still loved the best the first steep without being quite able to explain why (I warned you writing these taste notes was challenging!). That is something I will try to analyze next time I make this tea.
3rd steep – By this time I had figured out I had used too little tea, so only half a cup. Very very pale, very very delicate, astringency seems to have gone and amazingly even sweeter.
Drinking tea this pure and fresh is a fascinating lesson, so much easier to understand the reaction of tea to time and temperature, to see clearly in the size and shape of leaves the tea bush annual cycle. It might also be addictive. A lovely tea.