A new online retailer, HayesTea.com keeps things simple. Their web site lists only 2 teas, a Keemun Black Tea & a Dragonwell Green Tea. I stumbled upon their site through a link on tealdeals.com. They were offering a 20% off promo (TEADEALS @ checkout) and I thought, in my ongoing quest for the best affordable Dragonwell Longjing Green Tea, I’d give them a try. With a statement like , “Exquisite grade traditional Chinese green tea at an affordable price!” how could I pass it up? A more detailed Tea Shop review of my positive dealings with hayesteas.com is forthcoming. As for now, I’ll focus on the tea.
First off let me tell you, according to Hayes, “The tea is a grade 2 Dragonwell and is broken leaf.” So, that’ll tell you a thing or two as to how they define “exquisite.” At such an affordable price, plus a free shipping bonus Hayes threw in, I took a chance and purchased 4 oz.
The tea came in an unpadded standard manilla envelope and then vacuum sealed in 2 separate 2 oz. plastic pouches. As one side of the packaging is clear, what I first noticed was all the broken leaf. One bag was about 1/3 particles and the other about 1/4. I imagine shipping as they do, without any real protection, you’re asking for this.
The dry leaf has a much greener color than other Longjing teas I’ve sampled. I hear it has something to do with the plant being picked later and allowed to develop more chlorophyll. In short, it can be a sign of inferior quality.
Here’s where the detail breaks down for me. I brewed in my glass tumbler at 175°F, watching to see how the leaves would react. If they drop significantly before 3 mins, I decant. Otherwise I tend to wait the full 3 mins. In this I recall waiting the full 3 mins and leaving a root. Immediately I noticed a funky, smokey smell. This was matched with what I can only describe as a fuel type smoke flavor. It overwhelmed most any other taste and smell details. I got a bit of viscous body and some sweet tones, that might have been nice otherwise. Any kind of nutty qualities were lost.
For what it’s worth, I’ve thrown tea like this away before. I don’t pretend to know a whole lot about the process, but from what I’ve read I think it may have been pan fired poorly. I once got some really cheap Wing Hop Fung brand Longjing that was similar. It came in a nice canister, so it wasn’t a total loss, but I threw the tea away. I’m tempted to do the same with this one.
I appreciate hayestea.com customer service, but I’m just not a fan of their Dragonwell. I don’t know… I’m hesitating even posting a number rating on this one. Honestly that little red face on the far left is looking like the way forward. But as a new company, I think I’ll wait a bit and see how others react.
For the time being, I’ve got quite a few ounces left if anyone is interested. Pay shipping, or offer a trade. Don’t wait too long though, it might find its way to the circular file.