What should I try next?
This year I started becoming a sort of tea epicure. It all started when I bought some boxed loose Lipton tea and it tasted like hay. (Much later found in an article that it probably WAS hay.) Then I tried a Twinnings Darjeeling and was really impressed. A few weeks later I bought the “Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook” and then took to trying the whole gamut: Chinese greens, oolongs, and whites, one pu-erh, various blacks. Keep in mind I am interested only in unflavored single-leaf teas.
Here’s a summary of what I tried, my likes and dislikes:
Greens: I tried several Chinese greens. I really wanted to like one of these but I just don’t care for the vegetal taste. Gunpowder is the closest I can come to liking a green tea, as long as it is not too smokey.
Yellows: I liked Jun Shan Yin Zhen. Expensive though.
Whites: Bai Mu Dan (new technique) is my most-drunk current favorite. I tried the more fermented version of this and it tasted kind of salve-y. I tried and liked Bai Hao Yin Zhen but drink it only on special occasions because it is so expensive.
Blacks: I really like Dian Hong “Golden Bud” with its wonderful apricot note. I also like the Darjeelings but I have difficulty differentiating 1st flush, 2nd flush let alone which estate. They are cheap and make a absolutely wicked half-lemonade iced sweet tea. I can stand black teas described as chocolatey as long as there is enough fruity to balance that out.
Pu-erh: I tried one pu-erh. Creasote, smokey, peaty, tiny bit soapy, with a touch of old dog mat. Don’t like it. I suppose I’m just not sophisticated enough.
Oolongs Tie Guan Yin: I couldn’t believe it was really tea. Tasted more like flower petals. I was convinced they were adding some kind of essence to it. As much as I like it and stock it, it makes be feel kind of weird health-wise. I tried my best to get a certified organic version. (If you research the web you’ll see this tea in particular is linked to excessive pesticide use.)
Oolongs Dan Cong series: These also impressed me early on —they were so different from what I was used to. However their fresh tobacco-y scent has a way of oozing out of my pores —especially the Magnolia one.
Given that, I’m wondering what other teas to try. I’m afraid my tastes are still firmly American rooted. I like fruity, tannic, astringent, but then also floral. I generally dislike earthy, vegetal, smokey, but will accept subtle notes of such.
First of all, awesome name.
I don’t have any specific suggestions for you but I would suggest to look into Teavivre if you have not already. They have a lot of nice teas, ranging in quality and price. I would suggest their sample packs.
Milk oolong. There is one I would easily recommend: it is high up on the Top Teas page.
There are so many different ways you could go:
1. Try Japanese green teas. They are distinct from Chinese Green Teas in taste.
2. Get a wider variety of oolongs. There is a broad range of oolongs depending on their oxidiation level. I would try all of them and see what you like.
3. Get some more pu-er. There are two varieties and this stuff grows on people. Try them both and be sure to rinse before using.
4. Look into blends. When you get tired of an origin tea, it is ok to try a blend and see what they have to offer. Blends are too numerous to count but can provide a nice change up and have been around for a very long time.
5. Try the same tea from a few different companies. You will be surprised how the same product can have a completely different taste depending on the provider.
I second TeaVivre, and in fact since you like both fruity and floral teas I suggest the Peach Jasmine Dragon Pearls. I know you said you don’t care for the vegetal taste of green teas so if you do try them i would suggest a lower steeping time, the vegetal taste is pretty strong once you hit the 2-3min mark. When served cold it looses a lot of the vegetal taste and the peach really comes through, this makes a fabulous iced tea.
Oooh that looks good. I wish I wasn’t on a tea buying hiatus.
As John Delaney says, how about trying Japanese green teas?
If you’re not into vegetable taste, here’s what I suggest:
Genmaicha – The roasted rice pairs well with the green tea leaves, having a nutty taste and aroma.
Kukicha – Made with stems of the plant instead of the leaf. I think it’s kind of sweet, there’s less of a grassy taste there too.
Matcha – If brewed correctly, and also depending on the quality, it has sweetness with little bitterness. It’s fun to brew and one of the most nutritious teas out there.
The steeping time, temperature and water/leaf ratio are very important, especially at the beginning when you haven’t developed your favorite brewing guidelines for each tea. Any tea brewed in the wrong way doesn’t taste that good.
I have a certain fondness for Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling, first or second flush. I actually like the second flush better. I also like Assam teas, which are flavorful and slightly malty/sweet without needing milk or sugar (although you could add either). I know you dislike pu-erh, but you still might want to try a decent Lapsang Souchong. It’s smoky but not overly so, and pairs wonderfully with milk, sugar and a bit of cake. It’s a perfect tea for afternoon.
I like “single malt” non-flavored, non-scented, non-additives added teas as well. I have not yet tried many other kinds of teas from other countries, except Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and China. I know much more from Taiwan.
I drink teas based on time in the day, seasons, occasions, and also mood. : )
【Green tea 】( my morning ritual routine with meditation): I like San Xia Bi Luo Chun, San Xia Dragon Well, Tea flower green tea.
- San Xia Bi Luo Chun
- San Xia Dragon Well
- Tea Flower Green Tea
【Oolong Tea】It ranges from lightly oxidized to heavily oxidized. The lightly oxidized tastes more flowery. Some are charcoal roasted. I like Wen Shan Bao Zhong oolong- light oolong. Dark oolong, I especially love Maroon Oolong- very special kind of oolong, new processing technique invented in the east coast of Taiwan and also charcoal roasted Iron Goddess of Mercy from Muzha Taipei- definitely a must to taste!
- Wen Shan Bao Zhong oolong:
- Charcoal roasted Iron Goddess:
The shop is specialized only in Taiwanese competition-grade teas from heritage tea farms in Taiwan. Everything is free shipping everyday. No minimum amount required.