1962 Tasting Notes
Well, my worst fears have come true. I heard tell about excessively long delays on the Beijing-Ulaanbaatar route from Air China. Sure enough, today I got up before dawn to get to the airport for my 8:30am flight, and then an hour before boarding they “update” the estimated departure time to 7pm!!! Beijing airport does at least offer free wifi (in 5 hour chunks, though I should be able to get another 5 hours after this one expires).
Well before that news totally destroyed my day, back when I was happy and carefree (:P), I stopped at a Costa Coffee in the airport and got a tea and a muffin. I almost got an Earl Grey since I haven’t had one in so long (I guess I have plenty of time to go back and get one now), but I decided that since I was in China I would get the “Chinese Black Tea” on the menu. It was loose leaf and they brewed it in a little glass teapot. I had assumed that the English translation of “black tea” meant hong cha, as it is typically translated in the states, but when I got the tea and took a big whiff, it was clear that actually it literally meant what the Chinese call black tea, which is puerh. There it was, that earthy, woody, hay-ish, barn-ish scent I’ve come to associate with your typical tuocha. They didn’t steep it for super long, so it was not too strong and it was overall a very pleasant cup of tea. Not something I would go back for, but only because I’m not the biggest puerh fan overall, but I did enjoy my cup.
This milk tea was in the mini-fridge in my hotel room, which I’ve never had problems with before, but this one must have gotten too close to the freezer box because it was frozen almost completely when I took it out for lunch today. I love a good taro milk tea slush, but trying to drink it out of a bottle is impossible! It’s slowly thawing, so I’m now getting a nice mix of slush and liquid, but I kinda just want to drink it, heh. I guess it’s delayed gratification for my last taro milk tea!
The day has come… my last day in Beijing! I guess that’s not totally true since I will have an afternoon here after I return from Mongolia and before I leave for the States, but tomorrow morning, very early, I am leaving for Ulaanbaatar for about a week. I kind of doubt my hostel room will have a hot water pot like my hotel here did, so I don’t know how much tea I will be drinking in the next week. So I may be very scarce around here for a little while! After my last bottle of milk tea at lunch, that is. :D
This is the fourth and final flavor of bottled milk tea from Wahaha. I’ve had it once before but didn’t review it then. As far as I can tell this isn’t a jasmine green milk tea, but rather a black milk tea with added jasmine flavor.
The jasmine is distinct but not overwhelming here, like most of the other flavors I’ve tried. It even tastes a bit “green” in spite of itself. It’s a kind of fresh jasmine flavor that I’ve encountered a lot in jasmine greens here in China, which is to say it’s slightly different from jasmine greens I’ve had in the States in a way I can’t really describe. It is very tasty, though. I can’t say I’d grab this one over the plain or osmanthus flavors, but I like them all about the same (but not the taro, of course. Taro wins everything).
Oh taro milk tea, you really are the best. In all the grocery stores I’ve been to around Beijing, I’ve only ever found it in the one inside Xidan Joy City, a big mall. I go past it on occasion, but not very often. Thus I haven’t had this in a while and I forgot how delicious it is. I wish taro was more common as a flavoring in the states!
Oh, it’s morning again. It always seems to come too early no matter how early I go to bed. :P This morning I used the gaiwan and made like the people in the tea malls for tastings… that is, I did a number of short steeps but dumped all of them into one vessel. The result is definitely very tasty, and fairly similar to basically drinking each successive gaiwan steep. As such, even though I end up with a cup of tea that looks the same as “western” style steeping, the taste is definitely different. An interesting experiment, and one I am excited to try with other teas at home!
Today I am brewing this basically gong-fu style in a gaiwan. I’m not sure if people usually do that with jasmine teas, but that’s what I’m doing. My first use of a gaiwan, and hey I’m actually pretty good at it! I don’t even need an easy gaiwan like I thought I would.
Brewing this gongfu (high leaf:water ratio, short time) is really interesting, and it brings out other flavors that I haven’t tasted before. The jasmine is floral but… different in some ineffable way. I don’t know, but it is tasty. It’s also a little sweeter, a little fresher tasting. The first two steeps seemed pretty similar, but I also concentrating very much on the tasting, I just wanted some tea this afternoon. It is amazing how good this loose tea from the grocery store is… it makes me want to go pick up 50g of their high grade tieguanyin just to try it out!
Ok Steepsterites, I finally made a trip yesterday to the Maliandao tea street! I wrote up a very long report over in my “Beijing Tea Travel” post on the discussion boards.
So why am I not drinking one of my new teas or at least using one of my new teawares? Well, I spent all day outside today and I am sunburned and I wanted a cold tea. So I grabbed this one out of my fridge. I bought this one recently because I do love floral things even though I’ve never really been head over heals for osmanthus. I find it to be a pretty subtle floral. That is the case with this tea, as well, which tastes mostly like the original flavor but then there is a light floral note. It’s rather pleasant, actually, though if I’m not paying attention I could almost miss it. But I often find that that’s osmanthus for you! At least it is for me.
Today I tried to room-temp steep this by throwing some leaves into the bottle of water that I usually take with me to work. Let’s just say, it didn’t turn out well. Who knew a cold steep could be so bitter! I definitely need to go for far less leaves, I guess. I’ll try again next week.
But now I’m having this one hot again with dinner. It really is lovely, and oh so smooth. It’s just such a pleasant tea to drink, though I can’t see myself craving it and I think I would get bored of it, too, if it was the only thing I had. I guess I just crave more variety!