79

Ok…. the sample I have of this is clearly too old to fairly be rating, but I’ll write a tasting note anyhow. My guess as to its age is perhaps 3+ years, and although it was in an sealed, unopened packet, green teas do not have that sort of longevity. Shame on me.

Anyways, it’s worth a shot! I used 2 tsp of leaf to coax at least some flavour out (since I have a sample bag that’s maybe about 6-8 tsp worth, I can try again if that’s too little/too much). The leaf looks like that of a dragonwell, but unlike the picture here, it simply looks old and tired. Somewhat like the Rishi leaf from yesterday, although that turned out to be just fine.

Although the instructions indicated a 25-30s infusion, I gave it a whole minute because I really didn’t think that would be long enough.

The resulting brew is light in colour (darkening a bit as it sits), and the aroma is really strange. I want to call is a brothy sort of umami (I learned about umami in my cheese tasting panel, which sadly ended today, but it was a fun experience!). I haven’t really had teas with this sort of brothy aroma… it’s kind of throwing me. There is a hint of “tea” in there though, but I have to wonder if there wasn’t some contamination going on. Which brings me to a story of a different packet of tea I had that I brewed up, and it tasted like smoked salmon! My cousin informed me that it was probably stored to close to… my smoked salmon… (legit, my aunt sent smoked salmon with the tea), but I really wasn’t sure. Fast forward to now, and I think I may have been unwittingly tasting a pu’erh or lapsang souchong :D The things you learn! I still have the packet, but can’t read the writing on it quite, but you can be sure I’ll be sampling it again, although it’s another 1.5 years older now, hahahaha.

Ummm, but I digress. I’m sorry, apparently I’m “chatty” today, which is probably a procrastination technique to get out of inputting the sheets of data sitting accusingly next to me (I was supposed to do it yesterday). (See, here I go again! Shut up, girl!)

So the tea! The strangely umami/broth-y scented tea! Actually tastes better than I would have expected, given its age. I can believe that in its day, it was a fine tasting dragonwell. It actually does taste like one, just not with any particular strength. There’s a hint of the characteristic rock sugar flavour, and the crisp-cooked veggie flavour, but they aren’t terribly strong. Yet that said, it does taste like green tea, and it is enjoyable! In fact, in a pinch I could probably drink it to satisfy a craving for Verdant’s dragonwell, although I wouldn’t be nearly as satisfied.

I expect one of the places I’ll really notice a difference is in re-steeping; while I can get 3 good infusions from Verdant’s leaves, the Rishi version from yesterday gave me one for sure and a potentially good second infusion (I probably just let it sit too long), and I’m not sure these leaves have anything left in them now, although I will give it a shot for curiousity’s sake.

Anyhow, I’m glad this one wasn’t a complete failure. I decided last night that I really need to get going on my oldest tea samples, so this was a start on that :)

ETA: Er… whoops. The re-steep got 13 minutes, and tastes seaweedy and astringent. Ah well!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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I have always been a tea fan (primarily herbals and Japanese greens/oolongs) but in the last year or so, tea has become increasingly more appealing as not only a delicious, calming drink, but as a relatively cheap, healthy reward or treat to give myself when I deserve something. I should clarify that, however; the reward is expanding my tea cupboard, not drinking tea – I place no restrictions on myself in terms of drinking anything from my cupboard as that would defeat my many goals!

My DavidsTea addiction was born in late 2011, despite having spent nearly a year intentionally avoiding their local mall location (but apparently it was just avoiding the inevitable!). I seem to have some desire to try every tea they’ve ever had, so much of my stash is from there, although I’ve recently branched out and ordered from numerous other companies.

I like to try and drink all my teas unaltered, as one of the main reasons I’m drinking tea other than for the flavour is to be healthy and increase my water intake without adding too many calories! I’ve found that the trick in this regard is to be very careful about steeping time, as most teas are quite pleasant to drink straight as long as they haven’t been oversteeped. However, I tend to be forgetful (particularly at work) when I don’t set a timer, resulting in a few horrors (The Earl’s Garden is not so pleasant after, say, 7+ minutes of steeping).

I’m currently trying to figure out which types of teas are my favourites. Herbals are no longer at the top; oolongs have thoroughly taken over that spot, with greens a reasonably close second. My preference is for straight versions of both, but I do love a good flavoured oolong (flavoured greens are really hit or miss for me). Herbals I do love iced/cold-brewed, but I drink few routinely (Mulberry Magic from DavidsTea being a notable exception). I’m learning to like straight black teas thanks to the chocolatey, malty, delicious Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea, and malty, caramelly flavoured blacks work for me, but I’m pretty picky about anything with astringency. Lately I’ve found red rooibos to be rather medicinal, which I dislike, but green rooibos and honeybush blends are tolerable. I haven’t explored pu’erh, mate, or guayasa a great deal (although I have a few options in my cupboard).

I’ve decided to institute a rating system so my ratings will be more consistent. Following the smiley/frowny faces Steepster gives us:

100: This tea is amazing and I will go out of my way to keep it in stock.

85-99: My core collection (or a tea that would be, if I was allowing myself to restock everything!) Teas I get cravings for, and drink often.

75-84: Good but not amazing; I might keep these in stock sparingly depending on current preferences.

67-74: Not bad, I’ll happily finish what I have but probably won’t ever buy it again as there’s likely something rated more highly that I prefer.

51-66: Drinkable and maybe has some aspect that I like, but not really worth picking up again.

34-50: Not for me, but I can see why others might like it. I’ll make it through the cup and maybe experiment with the rest to get rid of it.

0-33: It’s a struggle to get through the cup, if I do at all. I will not willingly consume this one again, and will attempt to get rid of the rest of the tea if I have any left.

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